June 16, 2008

Ole Miss signee opts for San Diego

Ole Miss' quarterback situation, which has been volatile at best since Eli Manning departed after the 2003 season, took yet another hit when prospect decided his future rests with Major League Baseball instead of college football.

Chris Wilkes, a two-star quarterback prospect from Orlando, signed last February, told RebelSports.net on Monday afternoon that he has signed with the Padres.

Wilkes initially downplayed the likelihood that he would sign with the Padres the day after he was drafted in the 22nd round. However, he entered negotiations with the Padres last Monday and would not return phone calls to update his status only saying last Tuesday that initial negotiations had gone well and were still ongoing.

"I've signed with San Diego and I'm already in Phoenix," Wilkes said in a short conversation that he attributed to being unable to talk any further.

A search of the internet showed no announcement having been made by San Diego as of late Monday afternoon.

While Wilkes initially downplayed foregoing a college career for baseball, he did concede that he would sign with San Diego if the money "was right." Adding to the allure of baseball was the guarantee of having four years of college paid for by the Padres, a somewhat typical stipulation in many baseball contracts for players coming out of high school.

Wilkes started ten games for Dr. Philips High School in Orlando this spring and went 5-1 with four no decisions. He was drafted as a pitching prospect.

Wilkes was expected to compete against inbound signeee Nathan Stanley for the number three spot on the Rebel roster at quarterback, and perhaps even push Billy Tapp for the right to backup Jevan Snead. Tapp, a redshirt junior, has never played in a game at quarterback and was shifted to tight end after his sophomore season, then being shifted back to quarterback after 2007 spring practice when Cliff Davis quit the team.

The move by Wilkes likely is sending the Ole Miss staff back to the drawing board when it comes to 2009 quarterback recruiting.

The Rebels have targeted two national level recruits in Nathan Scheelhaase and AJ McCarron and will likely add another quarterback to their hot board, perhaps offering either Drew Allen, Clayton Moore, or Drew Little.

Wilkes finished the season with approximately 1,400 passing yards and 17 touchdown passes and added two more rushing touchdowns. He said he threw just five interceptions.

He committed last June and his offer by the previous staff was extended when Houston Nutt took over last November. He visited for the Florida game and otherwise, has not been back to the Ole Miss campus.

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