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Vassallo: Ole Miss Fans’ Take on Recruits

Greg and Mary Mitchell from Madison
Greg and Mary Mitchell from Madison

HottyToddy.com contributor Steve Vassallo visited the Oxford Conference Center to gather with fellow Ole Miss fans celebrating the one true Christmas to football: National Signing Day. Here’s what they had to say.

Norma McCullough
Norma McCullough

Norma Harvey McCullough may be the “most intense” Ole Miss football fan of all time! That’s an extreme statement but anyone who knows this fiery young lady from Little Rock would not argue with that assessment. Having been a Rebel fan for merely 10 years Norma married an individual, David McCullough – OM alum from 1982, who quickly jump started her interest. How many ladies do you know who reaches for the sports page the very first thing after waking up each morning?

Norma and David drove over last night to be at the recruiting breakfast this morning. Norma said that she is very excited about this new class of Rebels because “they are from all over the nation.”

“The progress we are seeing over the past three seasons is encouraging as the journey continues,” said Norma.

David McCollough
David McCollough

David’s expectations for the 2015 recruiting class are to fill needs on the offensive line; at running back; and at linebacker.

David said, “I am cautiously excited (referring to the QB position) as they all have the tools and all that is lacking is experience.”

The greatest benefit of being an Ole Miss Rebel is getting to meet quality individuals like the McCulloughs. They authored the book on fan loyalty.

Thomas Brame on right with his son Ben on left
Thomas Brame on right with his son Ben on left

Thomas Brame is an attorney who hails from Laurel and follows Ole Miss sports extensively. I caught up with Thomas at Wednesday’s recruiting breakfast. I asked Thomas what his greatest thrill was from a lifetime of supporting the Rebels.

He said, “I would have to say the victory over Notre Dame in 1977, however the wind-rejected field goal by Mississippi State would rank up there as well.”

Thomas has expectations for this recruiting class to be in the top twenty of the nation’s elite. He indicated that the anxieties over the previous few days with several players going back and forth were intense.

“We’re in good hands and we’ll be ok” said Thomas.

I then turned the attention to the 2014 season. Here’s what Thomas had to say…

“We had a great run,” he said. “There were some disappointing losses and several key injuries.”

Thomas went on to say looking ahead to the 2015 season that his prediction as of right now would be that Buchanan would start at QB in September, although he emphasized it’s a very fluid situation. Thomas Brame is the perfect example of what makes fan bases tick. He’s focused, dedicated and thrilled to be a key component of Rebel Nation!

Debbie Wheeler
Debbie Wheeler

Doug and Debbie Wheeler known as the “dynamic duo” of Ole Miss intensity. They literally follow Ole Miss sports 24/7.

Debbie grew up in east Memphis in a family whom Debbie described as having “red & blue blood.” Doc W.T. Hamilton was her father.

Doug and Debbie were among the early arrivals at Wednesday’s recruiting breakfast. I asked several questions to them both.

Being asked what their greatest thrill has been in a lifetime of Ole Miss activity, Debbie said “the Eli years.” I then asked her where our program stands now.

“We’re doing fantastic,” she said. “We have had several outstanding recruiting classes, although my expectation for today is not very high.”

Doug and Debbie recently purchased a house located at 413 Country Club Drive which is directly across from the Ole Miss campus. Doug has been following Ole Miss football for some 45 years. He actually grew up in Memphis and graduated from Overton High School. He has been lifetime friends with Ole Miss hall-of-famer Johnny Neumann. Doug’s greatest thrill of following the Rebels was attending games with his father-in-law.

Doug Wheeler
Doug Wheeler

He said, “It’s a good time to be a Rebel especially when you live next to the campus.”

At 8:35 this morning Doug assessed that we were doing better than he had initially thought.

Regardless of the outcome of this recruiting class the Wheelers will be in the Rebel corner through thick and thin. And when the “going gets tough”, they won’t evacuate the kitchen either (especially Doug who is one of the best cooks who ever settled in Oxford!)

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