• TheDMonline.com Staff Member?
  • Log In
Share |

Instant impact: Brassell excels on both sides of the field

Petre Thomas/The Daily Mississippian

The Ole Miss football team hasn’t had many bright spots this season as they started the season 1-3, but one of those bright spots is freshman two-way player Nickolas Brassell.

Coming out of South Panola High School, Brassell was rated a four-star recruit by Scout.com and Rivals.com. In Saturday’s 27-13 loss to Georgia, he scored his first career touchdown on a punt return. Sophomore running back Jeff Scott fielded the punt. Brassell then took the reverse handoff and went 81 yards for the score.

“It was a great handoff by me and Jeff Scott,” Brassell said. “When I got it and turned the corner, I saw a lot of cover guys in front of me, but I had blockers. I knew I could depend on my team to makes those blocks. I just came off them and got north and south.”

Brassell also played some at wide receiver Saturday, where he caught two passes for 52 yards and had one rush for 14 yards. He also recorded a tackle from his cornerback position on defense.

“Nick was an exciting and fun player to watch on Saturday,” Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said. “He is really coming into his own. He is getting comfortable at defensive back, where he is getting 12-15 plays, and on offense where he is getting about the same amount.

“I see things going up for him. He will continue to get more plays. He is an explosive player on offense, punt returning, kick returning or whatever it may be. He is also good at defending our opponent’s best receivers. I think his role is going to continue to improve and we will put more on him.”

Brassell was excited to get into the end zone for the first time in his young career, and he said it makes him feel more comfortable as well.

“It made me see myself in the end zone more,” Brassell said.

During the first two games of the season, Brassell played exclusively on offense, but the past couple of weeks he has seen his role expand even more.

“I’m just out there on either side,” he said. “If the coaches need me on defense, I’ll go out wide and shut down a receiver, or if they need me on offense, I’ll go make a play. I’m going to go do it. I work on both every day in practice.”

When asked where he prefers to play, Brassell simply smiled and said, “Wherever they call my number.”

Brassell is one of many recruits who made up the Rebels’ highly-ranked recruiting class, and he knows they are the key to the future for Ole Miss.

“We knew the coaches came and recruited all of us for a reason,” he said. “They knew we could make big plays. So it’s just up to us to go out and do it. We came in working. We just try to boost it up and get our team going in the right direction.”

Brassell admitted it has been tough to go from a winning program at South Panola to a 1-3 start this season. But he knows if the Rebels remain confident and continue to fight, they can start to turn the season around.

“I came from a winning program, so I just try to keep everybody up and try to keep them motivated,” Brassell said. “A lot of guys get down and think the game’s over. We fight until the clock hits zero. I just try to be a good leader of the freshmen.”

The two-way player has been a tremendous help on both sides of the ball in just his first four collegiate games. Brassell, who grew up watching Denver Broncos’ star Champ Bailey, hopes he can live up to the hype, but even with that, the only thing Brassell cares about is winning.

“I’m just out here trying to get the win,” he said. “I’m going to give it my all every play whether it’s offense, defense or special teams. If I’m on punt block, I’m going to go try to block a punt. If I’m on kick return block, I’m going try to go get a block. I’m just out here to do whatever I can to help my team.”