Ole Miss’ Dayton Wade recounts how he learned he earned a scholarship, talks about the mentality he has to be an SEC wide receiver
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss wide receiver Dayton Wade met with media Monday, two days after hauling in yet another seemingly-impossible, acrobatic catch for the Rebels, this one coming against Vanderbilt in a career-high performance for the Atlanta native.
Wade is always a charismatic and charming interviewee, and his heartfelt answers make him a media favorite. But it is his ability to catch a football that also makes him a fan favorite.
Wade arrived at Ole Miss as a transfer walk-on from Western Kentucky ahead of the 2022 season. He finished last year with 27 receptions for 309 yards. Thus far in 2023, he has already notched 36 catches for 522 yards and three touchdowns. He’s started every single game.
He played last season without a scholarship, but finally earned one for this season. What none of us realized, however, is how he learned of it.
Apparently, Knox Kiffin, head coach Lane Kiffin’s son, is the one who broke the news to Wade.
“I was doing normal day-to-day stuff and the next thing you know I get a phone call saying, ‘Hey, you gotta meet with this person.’ Knox broke the news down to me, like Knox Kiffin, he broke the news to me that I was getting a scholarship. I was like ‘for real?’ It was for real and definitely a game changer and definitely put me in the position that I’m in today. I’m very thankful for that opportunity.”
Dayton Wade on learning from Knox Kiffin about his scholarship
Wade was asked what is the difference between last season and this for him?
“I definitely got stronger. I got cleaner. I started understanding; you get two years in the system and you’re playing in a good system with great coaches, the game (won’t) do (anything) but get easier. I could just say finding windows and seeing everything, (so) the game just became way more easier. All I gotta do is play to my abilities at this point.”
Now back to Wade’s catch against the Commodores. First, let’s take a look at the play.
Dayton Wade using a defender’s back shoulder for a catch. 💯😳 pic.twitter.com/VPHHW3MC7u
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) October 29, 2023
Another look at that incredibly impressive Dayton Wade catchpic.twitter.com/334zNYTz6u
— The Sip Central (@sip_central) October 29, 2023
Here’s how Wade — in his own inimitable style —broke down the catch.
“Running, I was running for a good little minute. As I’m running, I’m like, ‘Dang, the ball still isn’t in the air yet?’ And, then I kind of see Jaxson, I kind of eye-lock him. And then I see him throw it. I’m like, ‘Okay, cool.’ And then I’m like, ‘Oh, snap! I’m running a little bit too fast, I have to throttle.’ So as I’m throttling, the corner, he catches up on my hip and I did some receiver stuff to create some separation, you know. So…ball in the air, I see-ball, get-ball. Go get it…I actually fell on my face. I catch the ball, but as I’m looking down, all I see is the grass getting closer and closer. I’m like, ‘Oh.’ I hit the ground and I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m good.’…I try to be a pro and not celebrate to much, get out-of-body, but it was a very exciting (moment). My emotions were through the roof. I just had to contain it. But, yeah, it was pretty cool.“
Dayton Wade on his spectacular reception against Vandy
Wade finished the game against Vanderbilt with eight receptions for a career-high 120 yards and a touchdown.
Wade, who is just 5-foot-9, is consistently able to make such spectacular plays in a league known for such talented defensive backs. He was asked how he is able to continue to haul in these tough catches. His answer is it’s all in your mentality.
“I line up trying to win, so before the ball was even thrown I was like ‘Okay, I’m gonna go win this.’ If you guys ever talk to Ayden Williams, ask him about (that play) because we came from the sidelines and all that happened, so we had a little conversation on the sideline. I was telling him ‘Hey, watch this.’ When I came back, he was like, ‘Bro, you just told me to watch this.’ I guess it’s the mentality.”
Ole Miss takes on A&M this Saturday in Vaught-Hemingway with kickoff set for 11:00 a.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.