After an impressive bowl game win in his first start, in which he had that highlight-worthy punishing run for a touchdown, Jeremiah Masoli was on the college football map.
And in 2009, the sky was the limit for Masoli at Oregon. USC was starting a freshman quarterback; no other team in the conference was poised to take control, and the other stud offensive weapon, LeGarrette Blount, was kicked off the team, leaving the offense in Masoli's hands, for the most part.
And once again, he took advantage. He finished '09 with 28 total touchdowns, more than half passing, and at 5'10" and 214 lbs, he was continuing to take advantage of teams that dismissed a smaller quarterback with an average arm.
And with the start of the 2010 season looming and "Masoli for Heisman" talk starting to emerge, it looked as though Jeremiah would once again seize the opportunity.
But after Masoli was charged for misdemeanor burglary, coach Chip Kelly decided to take a stand. Oregon was in the midst of dealing with numerous players in trouble with the law, and it was Masoli that maybe felt the most of it. Coach Kelly ruled Masoli suspended for the entire 2010 season.
However, in 2009, running back LeGarrette Blount returned early from his season-long suspension, and it looked as though Masoli would follow that path as well.
Then came strike two for Masoli, and unfortunately for him, Chip Kelly calls two strikes an out. A marijuana possession, along with other charges, led to Masoli's eventual dismissal from the Oregon program. In three short months, Masoli went from Heisman contender to player without a team.
After a minor flirtation with putting his name in the NFL's supplemental draft (which likely would have destined him for the AFL), Masoli decided to attempt to stay in college and find a new home to take his talents and off-the-field history.
Three non-BCS teams showed interest in Masoli: Hawaii, which would make it hard for him to get in the headlines for both the right and wrong reasons, UNLV, where he could hop into a growing Mountain West conference, and Louisiana Tech, which is trying to stay relevant without Derek Dooley.
However, all of those could be moot. Four BCS schools are rumored to be intrigued by bringing in Jeremiah Masoli. Michigan was mentioned early on, but based on their recruiting classes and tremendous depth at quarterback (two sophomores and a freshman are all rumored to be competing for the job), they were likely a better match for the system then a good fit.
West Virginia also showed initial interest, but it looks as though they are happy with Geno Smith as their future. Mississippi State was the first rumor that leaked out to the press, and for a team hungry for attention and talent at quarterback, Masoli may be a good fit.
However, the team that has shown the most interest and that looks to be the eventual winner, is the Ole Miss Rebels. Masoli likely won't start anywhere until 2011, but at Ole Miss, he could challenge even earlier.
I don't know if it's the best fit for Masoli, but actually getting an upgrade in conference (from Pac-10 to SEC) is something that Masoli will have to strongly consider, obviously.
The real question is not where, but why. Why should a team, especially an SEC school, consider taking on a player who has been a consistent headache off the field and had the audacity to risk getting in trouble again after being deep in the coach's doghouse for a criminal offense?
The answer is talent, and Masoli on the field is fun to watch, hard to bring down, and is a leader.
He will be on a Division One team, it looks like, by the next few weeks. That's about as close to a fact as we know, since he was kicked off the Oregon team. However, what is not a fact is where he'll end up, if he'll be productive, and if he'll be worth the character concerns and problems he's faced over his college career.
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