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Rebs' Spurlock ready for starting job

By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
April 15, 2004
OXFORD So that's who backed up Eli Manning.
After spending three years as little more than just another name on the Ole Miss depth chart, Micheal Spurlock will make his public debut as the Rebels' top quarterback on Saturday in the annual spring game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The Indianola native, who has appeared in just three games over the past two seasons, will be the No. 1 signal caller in the intra-squad scrimmage.
Though the Rebels lost several high-profile players following last year's 10-3 season, Manning's departure leaves by far the most conspicuous void in the starting lineup. And while the school's all-time passing leader is gone, his influence is not.
Spurlock's athleticism and arm strength have already made him a more mobile threat than Manning during spring scrimmages. Spurlock ran for 107 yards on seven carries in an April 3 scrimmage, and also threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-27 passing. Even with his mobility, though, Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe said the new starter's attitude may be his greatest asset.
Still, Cutcliffe is quick to admit that the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder has a long way to go.
Barring injury, Spurlock will finish spring practice ahead of redshirt freshman Robert Lane and sophomore Ethan Flatt. Lane was one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the country coming out of high school and was quickly crowned by many as the heir apparent to Manning.
But Spurlock shined in practices last season and again during the spring, securing the top job ahead of Lane and Flatt.
Spurlock's speed and below-average stature will change Cutcliffe's playcalling, the coach admits. And while Cutcliffe expects Spurlock to perform well in Saturday's scrimmage, he also admits the new quarterback will not be truly tested until the Rebels' season opener against Memphis on Sept. 4.