Ole Miss’ Malik Heath discusses reasons for his transfer from State: ‘Lane Kiffin is a great playcaller’
OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss wide receiver Malik Heath disagrees with Christopher Walken’s character in the classic Saturday Night Live skit. He most certainly does not ‘need more cowbell.’
Heath, who transferred to Oxford from archrival Mississippi State, was not a fan of the cowbells the Bulldogs clang during games, especially at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. This season, the Egg Bowl will be played at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
”I’m glad it’s (the Egg Bowl) not at the other school,” Heath said after Saturday’s practice.
“They’ve got to come here. I ain’t have to hear the cowbells. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I came. I didn’t like the cowbells. The cowbells are too loud.”
Wide receiver Malik Heath on Egg Bowl being played in Oxford
Heath’s decision to transfer
Heath did something uncommon even in this day of the transfer portal.
Players have gone from team to team in the same conference – Otis Reese came to Ole Miss from Georgia, while JJ Pegues and Ladarius Tennison transferred to the Rebels from Auburn – but Heath jumped sides in an archrivalry.
In the end, his decision had nothing to do with the Egg Bowl. Heath wanted to play in the Ole Miss system.
“I just like the offense,” Heath said.
“I think Lane Kiffin is a great play-caller, (wide receivers) coach (Derrick) Nix is a great coach. He pushes you every day. That’s something I didn’t have over there at the other school. At first, I was skeptical about it because of the rival school and all the media and all that. But I’ve seen a lot of other folks (transferring) and I thought. ‘Why not?’”
Malik Heath on why he transferred from State to Ole Miss
Last season, Heath caught just 34 passes, but five of those went for touchdowns. In a Lane Kiffin/Charlie Weis, Jr., offense, Heath could see more passes coming his way.
“Malik has had an adjustment period but has really flashed and made some really special plays,” Coach Kiffin said Saturday. “(He) actually came back after that period and scored a touchdown, long touchdown, on the last play of the day. He has a very high ceiling. A lot of work to do still,” Kiffin added.
Comfortable in Oxford
Still, transferring to a new school must seem like joining a bunch of strangers, right? Not according to Heath, who explains coming to Oxford is more of a family reunion.
“I don’t feel weird at all because I got the same brothers over here that I had over there,” Heath said. “It feels comfortable the same way I felt over there.”
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) August 4, 2022
Heath and fellow Ole Miss wide receiver Jonathan Mingo have been friends since long before this reunion. The familiarity is also helping Heath get acclimated to his new surroundings.
“I think the adjustment is good because me and Mingo have been tight for a long time. It’s just good having a person that you know, coming from another school that you’re a rival of over here. It just gelled together.“
Malik Heath on playing with his friend, Mingo
“Like I said, I got a little cousin that plays here, Brandon Buckhaulter,” Heath continued. “There’s a lot of chemistry and there’s a lot of talent. So, I just try to take pieces and pieces from each one of those guys and learn.”
On the QBs
There is another familiar face that greeted Heath to the team. Quarterback Luke Altmyer is not only a native of Starkville, but his father is also an orthopedic surgeon for the MSU football team.
Altmyer is in a battle for the starting quarterback spot at Ole Miss with USC transfer Jaxson Dart. Heath has had time to get to know Dart as well as rekindle his relationship with Altmyer.
“Me and Dart, we’ve been working out over the summer,” Heath said. “And I know Luke from Starkville, so I caught passes from Luke when he was at Starkville.”
Heath believes the quarterback competition is good for everyone.
“You’ve got to think like if the quarterbacks are competing, then everybody is competing for a spot. Nobody has a for-sure spot if the quarterbacks are competing for a spot. That’s just what everybody’s doing, putting their head down and competing for a spot.“
Malik Heath on competing for a spot
Ole Miss begins the season Sept. 3 at home against Troy and concludes the regular season at home versus Mississippi State.
From game one through the Thanksgiving Egg Bowl, Heath will be hoping for two things – more passes coming his way and fewer cowbells.
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.