By CHRIS TALBOTT
Associated Press Writer
OXFORD, MS (AP)- Kicked off the team at Oregon, Jeremiah Masoli has found a new football home in Mississippi.
The former Ducks quarterback, dismissed from the team after two run-ins with the law, visited the Ole Miss campus in Oxford this weekend and coach Houston Nutt offered him a place on the team as a walk-on.
Masoli, a California native, posted on his website Sunday that he intends to take up the offer.
He can play immediately under NCAA rules because he has earned his undergraduate degree and is enrolling in graduate school. He said on his website he will enter the parks and recreation management program.
Masoli figured to be a possible Heisman Trophy contender this season after a breakout 2009 for the Ducks.
His status quickly changed after the season when he was charged for his role in stealing a pair of laptop computers and a guitar from a fraternity house. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor second-degree burglary and Oregon coach Chip Kelly suspended him for the 2010 season. He still practiced with the team during spring drills and was expected to redshirt.
Kelly dismissed him in June, though, after he was cited for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and two other noncriminal violations following a traffic stop.
Masoli could still enroll at another school should he change his mind. Rebels newcomers report Aug. 8. He says on his website he'll return to Oxford on Wednesday to begin conditioning workouts.
"I am very excited about this opportunity and very thankful Ole Miss is giving me this chance," Masoli wrote on the home page of www.jeremiahmasoli.net. "I really want to thank Coach Nutt for believing in me."
Nutt, who cannot talk about recruiting Masoli under NCAA rules until the player is camp, initially told reporters in July he was not interested in expanding the roster. But when backup Raymond
Cotton, who was expected to push Nate Stanley for the starting job, left the team, Nutt began the search for depth at a position already thin from the departure of Jevan Snead to the NFL.
Nutt could take a public relations hit by bringing in the troubled player but he also may have improved a team picked to finish near or at the bottom in the Southeastern Conference's Western Division.
Stanley played sparingly last season, but looked good standing in for an injured Snead in part of the Cotton Bowl last January. He earned his spot atop the depth chart in spring drills. The only other quarterback on the roster currently is Randall Mackey, a junior college transfer who has participated in summer workouts but otherwise has no experience.
Masoli seems the perfect fit for Nutt's Wild Rebel offense. If he can earn playing time with just a month to learn the playbook, the talent is there for him to have an impact.
He guided the Ducks to their first Pac-10 title since 2001 and their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1995. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder is a two-year starter who threw for 2,147 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 668 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.
Masoli has been looking for a team since getting the boot from Oregon and started repairing his reputation by recently launching a website. He addresses his past problems, points out inaccuracies in media stories, notes that Oregon officials said nice things about him to Nutt and updates readers on his situation.
"A big shout-out to everyone who has given me strength and support during the last few months," Masoli wrote.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) AP-NY-08-01-10 1758EDT
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