Former Oregon and St. Louis School quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has accepted an invitation from Mississippi coach Houston Nutt to visit the school this weekend, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Friday.
Masoli made the decision early Friday morning to visit the Oxford campus. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Masoli has not yet enrolled in school.
Masoli was considered a possible Heisman Trophy candidate after a breakout season at Oregon, but coach Chip Kelly kicked him off the team after two brushes with the law in six months.
Nutt said earlier this summer that the Rebels weren’t interested in Masoli, but the situation changed when backup quarterback Raymond Cotton left the team last week, just two weeks before the start of preseason practice.
The Rebels lost last season’s starter, Jevan Snead, when he decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. That leaves Ole Miss with just two scholarship quarterbacks — redshirt sophomore Nate Stanley, whose experience came when he played briefly in the Cotton Bowl last January after Snead was injured, and junior college transfer Randall Mackey.
Masoli’s been looking for a second chance and a new home this summer. He can play immediately this season under NCAA rules because he has already earned his undergraduate degree, but he must be accepted into graduate school.
Masoli joined the Ducks in 2008 as a fifth-string junior college transfer who was expected to redshirt. But he got a chance to play because of injury and held onto the job. In 2009, he guided the Ducks to their first Pac-10 title since 2001 and their first Rose Bowl since 1995. He threw for 2,147 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 668 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The San Francisco native pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor second-degree burglary in a plea deal after he was charged with a felony for stealing a pair of laptop computers and a guitar from a fraternity on campus last January. Kelly suspended him for the 2010 season. He was expected to redshirt and Kelly allowed him to practice with the team during spring practice.
Kelly dismissed him from the team after police cited him for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and driving with a suspended license and failing to stop upon exiting a driveway in June. Masoli entered a guilty plea and paid a $613 fine last week.
The plea may be considered a violation of his probation for the burglary conviction, but it was unclear how Lane County prosecutors would handle the case. Masoli has fulfilled all of his other obligations in connection to that case, his attorney said.
A phone message left with the district attorney’s office was not returned.
Nutt and Ole Miss can expect to take criticism if Masoli eventually joins the team. Masoli began repairing his image by launching his own website, www.jeremiahmasoli.net, to tell his side of the story and apologize.
“I made a few very poor decisions in the past year, and I apologize to my family, friends and fans for them,” a letter on Masoli’s home page reads. “But I am not the person who has been portrayed in many media stories.
“I am not a thief nor a thug. The people who know me best know that is the truth.”
The website features pictures of Masoli, including one of him hugging his grandmother, a biography, career timeline, endorsements by former coaches and others he’s close with, a resume and a section entitled media mistakes, detailing inaccuracies Masoli says have been made in stories about him.
Masoli concludes his letter by writing: “I love playing football and want to continue to play. I’m still trying to figure out where that might be.
“Lastly, I want to thank my family, who I love very much. They have shown great support and forgiveness for the mistakes I made. I do not ever want to let them down again.”
AP Sports Writer Anne M. Peterson in Portland, Ore., contributed to this report.