5/1/2013 6:00:00 AM Freeze signs autographs for fans
Canon Butler is all smiles after Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze signed his football during last week’s Rebel Road Trip stop at the Philadelphia Country Club. Taking the stage, Freeze said he could feel the passion and energy of Rebel fans in attendance. Canon is the son of Trent and Lindsey Butler of Philadelphia.
By STEVEN THOMAS Staff Reporter
Ole Miss Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze signed numerous autographs here last week before telling a crowd in the Philadelphia Country Club that fans, players, coaches, administrators and others needed to come together as a group.
"We need each other," Freeze said.
The Mississippi native is one of the nation's top coaches.
Freeze was the first choice to return championships to Ole Miss football. He was introduced as the Rebels' 37th head coach on Dec. 5, 2011.
Freeze's stop in Philadelphia was part of the second annual BancorpSouth Rebel Road Trip, which features 12 fan meetings across the region.
The breakfast event was Wednesday, April 24.
Taking the stage, Freeze said he could feel the passion and energy in the fans.
He said the school brought the Egg Bowl trophy back to Oxford last season and followed with a lot of good luck on signing day.
"We don't expect to win every game," he said. "We've been fortunate."
He said keeping a positive attitude was necessary to "go from the wilderness to the promised land."
Freeze said he is always excited to see fans cheering on players, noting that the excitement makes it easier to recruit.
Ole Miss recently signed 11 high school All-Americans, including the nation's top overall prospect, Robert Nkemdiche of Loganville, Ga.
Freeze spoke briefly about the players and how assistance is provided to help them achieve academically as well as on the field.
Players are required to maintain a 3.0 grade-point-average.
Freeze makes an effort to work with each player to encourage them to do well in school and attend classes every day.
"This group is headed in an insane direction and we need to keep going," he said. "There will be rocky times ahead."
When asked if any of the recent signees would have any trouble keeping their grade-point up, Freeze said there were about seven who would need assistance with their studies.
"We have an uphill climb ahead of us," he said.
One lesson taught to players is that they are part of a team, he said, noting that he only gets upset if a player commits a selfish act.
The event ended with Freeze fielding questions from the crowd, ranging from the status of the new basketball arena, which will break ground in 2014, to what Ole miss has done to improve its image.
"We have invested in customer service," Freeze said.
He closed with a thank you to fans and later signed additional autographs, many for children.
The Rebel Road Trip spanned five states and featured seven new destinations including Houston, Pascagoula, New Orleans, Natchez, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Greenville.
The only return stops from the 2012 trip were Jackson, Tupelo, Oxford, Memphis and Corinth.