There’s No Place Like Home: John Rhys Plumlee glad he stayed in The ‘Sip
OXFORD, Miss – In “The Wizard of Oz” when Dorothy said there was no place like home, she meant her home state of Kansas.
John Rhys Plumlee is in touch with that sentiment — except for the Ole Miss junior, home is Mississippi.
As a senior at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Plumlee initially committed to play at Georgia, but like Dorothy clicking her heels, Plumlee seems to have clicked his cleats together three times to realize there is no place like his Mississippi home.
Prior to last season, the dual-sport athlete had to reassure himself that Oxford was indeed the place for him to be.
After Matt Corral was named the Rebels’ starting quarterback ahead of Plumlee, he could have easily entered the transfer portal and been whooshed out of Mississippi like the tornado pulled Dorothy from her home state.
“To say that it didn’t cross my mind (transferring), I’d be lying to you,” Plumlee said last week.
“But I love Ole Miss. I’ve started something pretty good here with my friends and family that love Ole Miss. The people here, the atmosphere here at Ole Miss, the baseball aspect of it, a lot went into it. But I feel really blessed to be at Ole Miss. So I’m happy that I stayed.”
John Rhys Plumlee
Staying at Ole Miss, Plumlee has had to summon what Dorothy’s three friends were seeking as they made their journey together in the 1939 classic: heart, brains, and courage.
First, Plumlee realized – like the Tin Man – he needed heart to stay with the Rebels and learn a new position. But as much as his heart was at the quarterback position, it was more on simply being an Ole Miss Rebel.
“My first love playing the game of football was playing quarterback,” Plumlee said.
“I love to do it. It’s probably still where my heart’s going to be. I love playing quarterback, I love doing that. But the transition over is pretty smooth, just because of the aspect of last year, the year before, having to know everybody’s assignments and all that. The transition’s pretty easy. My heart’s probably always going to be at the quarterback position, but not to say that the receiver position isn’t fun, because it is a lot of fun.”
John Rhys Plumlee on transitioning to WR
The emotion of the position change was only part of the adjustment. Like the Scarecrow, Plumlee had to call on his brain to learn a completely different role.
“Right now, in the mornings (during fall camp), I’m meeting with the quarterbacks and watching film with them,” Plumlee said. “Not to say that my football knowledge wouldn’t grow in the receiver room, but I feel like my football knowledge is growing at a faster rate in the quarterback room, and that’s what I wanted to continue to progress in is my football knowledge and knowing the game better. I think we’re doing a pretty good job of it.”
Finally, it took a lot of courage – much like the Lion – for Plumlee to realize that he could help his team more at the receiver position, something that was apparent to him after his performance in the Outback Bowl win over Indiana in January.
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) January 3, 2021
After only a week of practice at wide receiver before playing the slot position in the Outback Bowl, and now in fall camp, Plumlee has shown the guts to embrace the change and be a mentor to his younger teammates.
“Like the younger guys, I try to help them out a little bit, just kind of talking through it and stuff. The older guys like (Dontario) Drummond and Braylon (Sanders) and (Jonathan) Mingo, have a really good idea of the concepts as well,” Plumlee said. “
And like Dorothy, the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion, along the way Plumlee has learned everything he wanted was already at home in Mississippi and no portal was needed.
Plumlee and the Rebels began their 2021 journey along the yellow brick road Labor Day evening against Louisville. Kickoff in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium is set for 7 p.m. (CDT) and will be broadcast on ESPN.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.