At full strength, Treadwell ready to be a part of Ole Miss Sugar Bowl history
Just a year ago, an injured Laquon Treadwell could only sit by and watch as his team was dismantled, 42-3, by Texas Christian University in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. But now, a year later, the junior wide receiver is at full strength and looks to make a positive impact for No. 12 Ole Miss in this year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl against No. 16 Oklahoma State (10-2, 7-2 Big 12).
Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze has already told his players to stay focused, advising the team that the trip to New Orleans is not a getaway vacation.
“We are going out there to win the game, so he just got straight to the point with us,” Treadwell said of his head coach’s comments.
This will mark the ninth appearance in the Sugar Bowl for Ole Miss, matching Florida and Georgia for third-most among all college football programs. The Rebels’ last appearance in the prestigious bowl was in 1970 with Archie Manning at the helm, in what would be a 27-22 victory over Arkansas. Ole Miss made eight appearances in the Sugar Bowl from 1953-70, winning five of them.
Treadwell ready to be part of a “legendary moment”
Laquon Treadwell understands the significance of the Sugar Bowl for Ole Miss fans and calls his opportunity to be part of history, “a legendary moment.” Treadwell believes this season could go down as one of the best in the Rebels’ history if Ole Miss defeats Oklahoma State on New Year’s Day.
“We will forever be remembered for beating Alabama twice and all of the top teams in the SEC West and then winning the Sugar Bowl at the end of the season,” said Treadwell, who was a finalist for the Biletnikoff, Maxwell and Walter Camp Player of the Year Awards. “So, that’s something we look forward to doing and keeping the momentum rolling.”
Treadwell and his teammates started their quest for the 2016 Sugar Bowl title with a late practice Monday evening, and everyone appeared loose after being off the gridiron for two weeks following the 38-27 win over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.
In practice, Treadwell looked the part of the SEC’s premier receiver, running his routes without missing a beat and catching passes from both Chad Kelly and Ryan Buchanan.
Treadwell continues to improve
Treadwell suggested earlier this season he thought he needed to get better—and he meant it. He admitted he didn’t feel he was truly improving until after the loss to Memphis this season, primarily because up until then he was still favoring the repaired ankle broken in last season’s 35-31 home loss against Auburn.
Since the loss to Memphis, however, Treadwell has gone on a rampage, setting a school-record for most consecutive games with 100 receiving yards (five) and scoring a touchdown in each one.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Crete, Illinois native is the only receiver in the Southeastern Conference with 1,000 receiving yards this season.
When he began the season, Treadwell wanted to improve and do whatever he could to help lead the Rebels (9-3, 6-2) to the top of the SEC.
Honestly, every week I just got better. It was a mental battle for sure,” Treadwell said. “Every week I was battling my injury, through the whole year. I am getting better as the weeks are going on, getting more comfortable. At the end of the year, I just caught a roll and some rhythm, and I was playing at a high level when the plays were coming.
Treadwell on Robert Nkemdiche’s situation
As of Monday afternoon Treadwell indicated he had yet to speak with Robert Nkemdiche, who is recovering from a fall Saturday night from his hotel room inside the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. From all accounts, Nkemdiche only suffered minor injuries from the fall, but when the news came out about the 6-4, 296-pound defensive tackle, Treadwell said he quickly called Freeze.
“It was very difficult; he’s one of my great friends, a great teammate,” Treadwell said of Nkemdiche. “I contacted Coach Freeze, first and foremost, and spoke with him. He just said ‘Robert is doing well. He should be fine. Just have to keep praying for him and keep him in our prayers. Make sure we keep him in our prayers.’ That was the moral of the story.”
Treadwell’s concern for Nkemdiche was evident: “Once I see him, we will chat about it and I will make sure he’s confident and feels comfortable with everything that’s going on with him.”
Feature image credit: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.