LaGarrette Blount had no advice for Jeremiah Masoli. Instead, he got empathy.
Friends and former teammates at the University of Oregon, Blount and Masoli both endured inglorious ends to their careers with the Ducks and then traveled more than 2,000 miles to try and get back on track.
Blount, a running back, joined the Tennessee Titans in April as an undrafted free agent. Masoli, a quarterback, announced this week his intention to play his final college season as a walk-on at Ole Miss, pending final approval of the university and the NCAA.
According to Blount, the two spoke in recent days about the similarities of their respective situations.
“I didn’t give him any advice,” Blount said. “He just said, ‘Dang, now I know how you felt when you almost had everything taken away from you. I went through the same situation.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, you’d better tighten up.’ That’s all it is.”
Blount was suspended for most of the 2009 season as a result of a punch he delivered to an unsuspecting Boise State player nearly a year ago (Sept 3, 2009). The previous season he set a school record with 17 rushing touchdowns following a career as a junior college All-American at East Mississippi Community College.
Masoli was removed from the team in June after a pair of legal issues – a guilty plea to a charge of second-degree burglary in March and a citation for driving with a suspended license and misdemeanor possession of marijuana in June.
He was a two-year starter for the Ducks, led them to the Rose Bowl last season and accounted for a total of 51 touchdowns. He was considered a leading preseason Heisman Trophy candidate.
“I am very excited about this opportunity and very thankful Ole Miss is giving me this chance,” Masoli wrote Sunday on his personal website. “I really want to thank Coach (Houston) Nutt for believing in me.”
He will be one of three quarterbacks on the Ole Miss roster. Neither of the others have notable playing experience at the Division I level. One is a sophomore who attempted 23 passes as a backup in 2009 and the other is a junior college transfer.
“I think he’ll start for them; I think he’d start for a lot of teams,” Blount said. “I talked to (Oregon) coach (Chip) Kelly (Monday) night. He was pretty disappointed that he had to let (Masoli) go, and not just because of football but because he’s a good person in general. It’s just the way he grew up that’s still affecting him right now.
“I think he’ll be good for Ole Miss.”
Back in 2005, Masoli spent three months in a juvenile facility for robbery. That prompted his father to move him from California to Hawaii for his senior year, which drastically affected his recruitment. Masoli spent one year at a junior college in California before he signed with Oregon.
“He’s definitely not going to screw this one up,” Blount said. “I know he’s not. He’s learned his lesson just like I did after I got in trouble. He knows that everything can be taken away from him in just a second, so he won’t risk it again.”