Senior defensive end Kentrell Lockett was nowhere to be found when news broke Tuesday that the NCAA had rejected Jeremiah Masoli’s residency waiver request.
Not that he didn’t have his reasons.
Lockett, dealing with an irregular heartbeat, had hopped a plane to Cleveland hours before for a string of tests at the Cleveland Clinic, a renowned medical clinic specializing in heart and vascular health.
Ole Miss head athletic trainer Tim Mullins said there’s no timetable for Lockett’s return. The team captain won’t be available for the Rebels’ season opener Saturday against Jacksonville State.
“That was our captain,” head coach Houston Nutt said. “Boy, that was a blow.”
And Nutt would know. He’d grown accustomed to bad news over a tumultuous 24 hours.
Following a lengthy, three-week process, it was ruled Masoli could continue in his graduate studies while at Ole Miss, but won’t be eligible for on-the-field competition until the fall of 2011. Add on the loss of Lockett for the foreseeable future, and Ole Miss’ brass are surely glad to put a nightmarish day in its rearview mirror.
“It was a hard Tuesday, because so many things were thrown at you,” Nutt said.
Senior defensive tackle Jerrell Powe can relate to the arduous process of NCAA eligibility. Powe fought to enroll at Ole Miss three separate times, before finally being granted his opportunity in the fall of 2008 after a two-year absence from football.
“You’ve gotta press on and keep your head up and put it all in God’s hand,” Powe said. “We trust (the NCAA is) going to make the right decision. It’s very important that (Masoli) just keep a positive attitude, come out here and work hard every day, and just put it in God’s hand. There’s nothing else you can do.”
As to the loss of Lockett, well, Powe isn’t hiding his concern.
“We thought it was a minor situation, but I see it is very serious,” he said. “He will be missed a lot. He’s a leader. He’s a captain. But we’ve got to press on.”