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May 6, 2008Ole Miss is only two-deep at quarterback headed into the 2008 season with Jevan Snead projected as the starter and Billy Tapp in the backup role.
While there's several walk-on athletes that played the position during the spring, including former Northeast C.C. quarterback Layton Jones, two inbound freshmen will get a hard look this fall for backup duties and to potentially replace Snead, a redshirt sophomore, in two or three years.
Orlando (Dr. Phillips HS) quarterback Chris Wilkes is one of those and he is in the process of completing his senior year and preparing for the move to Oxford.
"Everything is set to go," Wilkes said Monday evening. "I plan on being up to start the second semester of summer school around June 28."
Wilkes, a 6-foot-4, 220 pound athlete, said the Ole Miss coaching staff wanted him to arrive for the first semester of summer school, which starts May 27, however, he doesn't graduate from high school until June 2, a situation he couldn't overcome due to the distance and date conflicts.
One thing that won't interfere with the move and start of school is Wilkes participation in baseball.
"We just finished last week and lost to the No. 1 seed," Wilkes said. "I pitched the first game and we won 5-0."
Wilkes has pitched so well, in fact, that he's getting some interest from the professional baseball scouts.
"I don't think it's anything that major," he said about getting attention from baseballs scouts. "I haven't had the exposure for the big money (associated with being a high round baseball selection). I think I'll probably be drafted the second day, but that's not going to affect me going to Ole Miss."
Wilkes called football his first love and baseball something he did in high school for fun, but don't discount him giving it a shot to make Mike Bianco's Rebel baseball team.
"I'd love to play baseball," he said. "If I get redshirted, I'd like to play both sports if I have that option."
In the meantime, Wilkes is preparing for fall football. He said he's just now started throwing some footballs and that he's following the workout routine that colleges are allowed to provide inbound student athletes.
He's also staying in touch with the Rebel staff. While he hasn't talked often to new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kent Austin, he has stayed in contact with Ron Dickerson, Jr., who recruits portions of Florida for Ole Miss.
"We talk at least once a week," he said. "He's just making sure that I'm on top of my academics and that I have all my paperwork submitted."
Wilkes said he's long been registered with the NCAA Clearinghouse and only has a couple of documents left to submit in anticipation of gaining his academic clearance.
Wilkes, while rated only a two-star prospect by Rivals.com, had an impressive offer sheet that included Nebraska, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, and Colorado before opting to sign with Ole Miss. He committed last June after impressing then offensive coordinator Dan Werner and was re-evaluated by Houston Nutt and his staff, who re-affirmed his initial offer.
Wilkes has only been to Ole Miss once - for the Florida game last fall - but has kept up with the team including the quarterback depth chart.
"I just want to come in and compete," he said.
He finished the season with approximately 1,400 passing yards and 17 touchdown passes and added two more rushing touchdowns. He said he threw just five interceptions.
Wilkes reports a 920 on his SAT and a GPA round 3.0.