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Countdown to Ole Miss football 2018 - No. 99, 98, and 97

We are now 99 days away. But, we’re going to celebrate 98 and 97, too.

Mississippi Rebels v LSU Tigers Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

We’ve got 99 days until college football season kicks off.

There are several ways the guys and gals at Red Cup thought about counting down the days until college football.

  1. Giving away free rounds of golf every day to our deserving commenters
  2. Inviting a reader on an exclusive tour of the Ole Miss facilities and a weekend stay at the Graduate Hotel coordinated by our crack team of writers
  3. Having Jerrell Powe scream the number of days until college football to scare you into a frenzy of excitement

Granted all of these ideas were quickly turned down by our fearless leader - Jeff Gray(s of Thunder). So you can file your complaints there if you don’t like what we came up with instead.

So let’s talk about great players who donned the number that correlates with our countdown. And don’t worry, we’re going to talk about 98 and 97, too.

No. 99 - Gilbert Pena

One of the most notable players to ever don the 99 for Ole Miss is junior college transfer Gilbert Pena. When he first committed from ASA College, Rebel fans undoubtedly saw his size (6’4”, 317-pounds) but also his hometown of Yonkers, NY.

How is a guy from Yonkers, NY going to adapt to the ravenous crazy following of SEC football? The humid weather of Oxford, MS? Has he ever seen a crawfish?

Some of those questions were immediately answered as Pena tallied a career high four tackles in his first Egg Bowl in 2011 - a year everyone wants to forget. Pena was a big time space eater in 2012 on the defensive line, starting six games and playing in every game on the way to earning to bid in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Pena wasn’t able to catch on in the NFL, but he has taken to a very noble track of coaching at his former ASA College. He’s putting his story of success at Ole Miss to work in guiding and molding new players to the next level.

No. 98 - Peria Jerry

I have seen the stark injustices of University Police Department pouring out cans of Natty Light in the Grove. I have seen the very darkness of losing to a Football Championship Subdivision team on opening weekend.

But I have never seen a man absolutely possessed, consuming offensive linemen and quarterbacks with a fiery rage and unstoppable motor until I saw No. 98 on our list - Peria Jerry.

BREAKING: Peria Jerry just sacked Graham Harrell and Jordan Jefferson simultaneously at a GMC dealership where they both work selling cars, you know, just because he wanted them to know he’s still the boss.

Jerry came to Ole Miss from South Panola High School via Hargrave Military Academy - both known football factories pumping out division one prospects. He is a rags to riches story as his mother made ends meet painting coffin handles at Batesville Casket Company while her large sons grew into college football superstars.

The first time I raised my young eyebrows at the sight of Jerry was watching a grainy 40-yard dash at a National Signing Day event. At 6’2” and 300 whopping pounds, he scooted at 4.9 seconds across the screen. He was a living, breathing, freight train of a human being - and the SEC was about to meet him.

Jerry was named All SEC and first team All American in 2008 leading the Rebels to a Cotton Bowl championship for the first bowl win in five years. He battled through years under Ed Orgeron and came out fresh on the other side drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

He played five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and retired with nagging injuries keeping him from competing at the highest level.

No. 97 - Gary Wunderlich

The most accurate kicker in Ole Miss football history PERIOD. Every so often an athlete comes along so physically imposing and so emotionally hardened and focused nearly any failure they post stuns us as inconceivable.

OK, maybe replace physically with academically (3.56 GPA in Finance?!?).

Nevertheless, kid was dynamite for the Rebs.

- 158-of-162 on Point After Attempts - no big deal 97.5 percent success rate.

- 64-of-77 on Field Goal Attempts - yawn, 83 percent success rate

- Ole Miss’ all-time leader in points scored - 350 points, nearly 90 per season

- Holds SEC and Ole Miss record with 95.7 percent (22-of-23 FGM in 2016)

Oh yeah, he punted for three seasons as well, putting up a 44.8 yard per punt average and a career long of 73 whole American football yards.

Anyone who has watched football for a considerable period of time will tell you that a kicker just needs to be as boring and unflappable as possible to be valuable.

His game-winner against Texas A&M 29-28 will certainly forever be remembered for that remarkable comeback in front of 112,000 screaming, towel-waving Aggies.

However, I think we’d be remiss to forget his most impressive feat - being ejected for fighting in the Ole Miss-Memphis game on a kickoff.

The Memphis University School product was most likely just near the fight and got improperly ejected, but hey, it goes a long way in the street cred department to say you fought the entire Memphis Tiger football team and live to go on and be a legendary KICKER.

Gary, you will most likely go on to be a hedge fund manager or CPA that makes more money than your football-playing teammates. But for today, we remember your accomplishments on the field as the greatest kicker in Ole Miss history.

A big, 99, 98, and 97 shout out to Gilbert Pena, Peria Jerry, and Gary Wunderlich — your Ole Miss Rebels of the day. Stay tuned for more as we get closer to opening weekend.