As he prepares for his first NFL season with the Carolina Panthers, Matt Corral thinks his decision to play at the University of Mississippi didn't challenge him in ways that he would have liked.
Speaking to reporters at training camp, Corral said he "took the easy way out" by attending Ole Miss because it provided him with the opportunity to play right away.
"Knowing what I know now and trusting my work ethic, I would have [gone] to a place that would have made me compete," he explained.
When Corral was a prospect at Long Beach Poly in California, he committed to USC two years before he graduated high school in 2018.
In 2017, Corral decommitted from USC. He committed to Florida a month later but flipped to Ole Miss that December after Jim McElwain was fired as Gators head coach.
Speaking to Tom Loy of 247Sports in 2018 about his recruiting carousel, Corral said he wanted to be at Florida and told incoming head coach Dan Mullen he didn't need to pursue any other quarterbacks:
"I told Florida I'm the guy. Don't recruit anyone. I said we're done. Coach Mullen said 'We're done recruiting. You're our quarterback. You're our guy.’ Alright, set. I'm thinking about it all night and it just didn't sit right with me. I just felt like I didn't make the right decision. I called Florida the day coach Luke came by. They were hitting me up when coach [Matt] Luke was there, but I wasn't really responding because he was there. I hit Florida up later that night, but nobody picked up. I don't know if they felt something was going to happen, but none of them picked up. So, I sent them a text saying thank you for all of this and everything, then I de-committed and committed to Ole Miss."
Playing for the Rebels provided Corral with an opportunity to start early. He redshirted in 2018 before taking over as the starter in 2019. He threw for 8,048 yards and 55 touchdowns and completed 67.2 percent of his attempts from 2019 to 2021.
Mississippi won 10 games in Corral's final season for the first time since 2015. The Rebels lost 21-7 to Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. Corral was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a leg injury.
Corral's comment at Panthers training camp was in response to a question about competing with Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold to be the starting quarterback.
Even though it's expected the competition will be between Mayfield and Darnold, Corral said he's coming in hoping to earn the starting job while acknowledging "this is a process" for him.
"It's all about the longevity of getting a job," he added. "I'm in a rush, but I'm not, if that makes sense."
The Panthers traded up to select Corral with the 94th pick in the 2022 draft. He will likely start this season as the No. 3 quarterback behind Mayfield and Darnold, but his upside makes him an intriguing long-term option.
Both Mayfield and Darnold can become free agents after this season. If Corral shows enough promise behind the scenes, he could take over as the No. 1 quarterback in 2023.