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November 24, 2008

Changing minds, one win at a time

Early in the season, Daytona Beach (Seabreeze), Fla., safety Jonathan Scott wasn't really giving Ole Miss more than a cursory look. Scott liked Ole Miss recruiting coordinator/cornerbacks coach Chris Vaughn, but the Rebels had won just three Southeastern Conference games in the previous three seasons combined and hadn't gone to a bowl game since Eli Manning led Ole Miss to the Cotton Bowl in January 2004.

A lot has changed since then. The Rebels have won seven games going into Friday's regular-season finale against Mississippi State in Oxford, including wins at Florida, at Arkansas, at home against Auburn and, most recently, at defending national champion LSU.

Scott's older brother, James Scott transferred to Ole Miss from Ohio State in late August and is sitting out this season due to the NCAA's transfer rules. James Scott figures to challenge for playing time in the spring, as starting cornerback Dustin Mouzon is set to graduate. James Scott will be a sophomore in the fall with three years of eligibility remaining.

"I haven't talked to him lately, but he's enjoying everything (at Ole Miss)," Jonathan Scott said.

His brother's happiness _ and his presence at a school that seems to be rising in the Southeastern Conference power structure _ has caused Jonathan Scott to look at Ole Miss in a whole new light.

"I think about it all the time, in a positive way," the younger Scott said Sunday night. "Everything would be, I don't know, two times greater. Us being on the same side of the ball, it would be even more fun."

As it stands today, Scott has taken three official visits to West Virginia, Alabama and South Carolina. Of those three, the Gamecocks lead.

"It was good," Scott said of his trip to Columbia, S.C. "I had a great visit. I got to sit down and meet with Coach (Steve) Spurrier. They're trying to rebuild and get a championship. I enjoyed myself."

Scott is close to setting up an official visit to Rutgers and the fifth visit is up in the air, though Ole Miss has a strong chance of landing it.

"I'm not sure yet," Scott said. "I talk to Coach Vaughn often. We had a good relationship even before James came. They have a whole new coaching staff and they're doing good things. My brother went there and now my eyes are open.

"Coach (Houston) Nutt is a great coach. I love his coaching style and he's got the players to go along with it and they're coming out on top."

Scott said this past Saturday's 31-13 win over then-No. 18 LSU didn't change the way he felt about Ole Miss.

"I've seen enough," Scott said. "Coach Nutt is a good coach. I love the way he uses his players. They just blew LSU out. They have a great defense and a great defensive line, too."

It's just that Scott isn't ready to make a decision yet. He plans to announce his decision at Seabreeze's football banquet in January. Until then, he's going to take his time and evaluate his options.

"I'm enjoying it," Scott said. "It's the best time of my life to go through something most people don't go through."


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