November 2, 2010

Chance for a change?

Jermaine Whitehead visited with Houston Nutt shortly before Ole Miss took its shot at No. 3 Auburn Saturday night.

Nutt's message to the four-star cornerback from Greenwood (Amanda Elzy), Miss., was simple.

"He told me he was ready to dress me because he could use me," Whitehead said. "He said, 'We're going to play with them.' He said he didn't know what would happen, but they were going to play them."

Ole Miss lost, 51-31, falling to 3-5 on the season. Whitehead took in the environment at Vaught-Hemingway Saturday with open eyes and, to some extent, an open mind. Still, the four-star standout said he's very much committed to Mississippi State.

"I came up to see what Ole Miss had to offer on game day," Whitehead said. "It was great. It was live. …I'm definitely still committed to State. I'm looking to see just in case. Anything could happen between now and February."

Specifically, Whitehead said he's covering his proverbial bases in case there's a change at Mississippi State. If Dan Mullen is still in Starkville next season _ the Bulldogs are 7-2, prompting some speculation that the second-year Mississippi State coach could be a hot name in the offseason _ Whitehead said he will be as well.

"If he's there, I'm there," Whitehead said. "If (Mississippi State assistant) Coach (Melvin) Smith is there, I'm there. It would have to be a drastic change for me to pull out right now."

Whitehead said Mullen, Smith and Co. "didn't really want me to go up (to Oxford), but they like the fact that I can go and still be OK, I guess. They wanted me to come watch their game (against Kentucky Saturday in Starkville), but I wanted to see how Ole Miss would come out against top competition."

Whitehead said the Rebels' struggles this season haven't impacted how he feels about the Ole Miss program.

"They lost a whole lot last year," Whitehead said. "They lost two corners (Cassius Vaughn and Marshay Green), a safety (Kendrick Lewis), their spark on offense (Dexter McCluster), Jevan (Snead) and Shay (Hodge). If you want to go and play early, that's a good place to go. They're going to come back up.

Whitehead, who has struggled through an ankle injury this season, had 13 touchdowns and five interceptions entering Friday night's game at Louisville. His team's season was a hot topic of conversation, Whitehead said, when he visited with fellow prospects on Saturday in Oxford. Whitehead said he spent a lot of time with Ole Miss commitments Donte Moncrief and T.J. Worthy, as well as Mississippi State commitment Nickalos Brassell.

"We talked like young guys do, what's going on, how your season's going, things like that," Whitehead said. "We kind of know each other and we kind of joke with each other.

"(Brassell) told me the same thing I'm saying - there's a long way to go. He said if it ended today, he'd go to State. I hope he stays with it. He said he'd keep me in the loop. That's all he said about it."

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