Tracey Lampley profile
It was 3rd and 24 with the game on the line. The Eagles were up but momentum was swinging toward Virginia in last Saturday’s game. Southern Miss would be wise to pack it in, not risk a turnover, punt, and hope the defense can hold.
Tracey Lampley had other ideas.
On a brilliantly played backdoor screen pass, Lampley scampered through multiple defenders, some running into each other trying to tackle him, and burst ahead for a first down and victory sealing field goal that put the game out of reach.
“To be honest with you I was thinking it was 3rd and 15, not 3rd and 24,” he said of the big play last Saturday in the win over Virginia.
“So learning that they call your number in such a big situation means they are depending upon you. They called it for me, and I caught the ball and saw a little crease right away. As I was taking off, I got a few blocks that I needed and was able to break free and put the nail in the coffin with that.”
But this is nothing new for the humble kid from Waynesboro, Mississippi.
Lampley has been making plays all through his freshman season, and even though this season has been another break-out season, he struggled last season being unable to play up to his full potential.
He talked about making the adjustment to wide receiver.
“There really wasn’t any adjustment,” he said. “I had that nagging injury that prevented me from doing a lot of the things I wanted to do last season. I was playing running back and wide receiver and was really limited in what I could do and couldn’t do.
“Now I am back to 100% and I am just out there having fun. They are calling my number a lot, and guys are out there making blocks for me.”
The fully healthy playmaker has already had some very big games for Southern Miss. After 4 games, he is tied for the lead in catches on the team with 12 for 125 yards. He also has 3 rushes for 24 yards, 8 punt returns for 82 yards, and 8 kick-off returns for 170 yards.
“I am there to do anything that can spark this offense and make plays in any way that I can,” he said. “It feels going knowing the coaches and players are counting on me to make plays. I don’t want to let my teammates down, so my confidence is high because I just want to help the team.”
He has earned an appropriate nickname as well.
“They are calling my “little Percy” like Percy Harvin who gave Florida a big spark when they needed it. I’m trying to be that guy for this team.”
His connection with QB Austin Davis, he says, is one of the keys to his success. “It is a great connection,” he said. “Austin has a lot of confidence in me, and he has come to me and 2nd and 3rd down and told me to get open and make a play. With a great quarterback like he is, he can read the defense and make the right play. He gets the ball to us in space and lets us do our things as receivers.”
How does Southern Miss avoid a let down this week against Rice?
“We have to come out fighting and ready on all phases,” Lampley said. “We want to win this game, because there is no player on this team who has ever gotten a win over Rice. We know it is a conference game so we are going to come out swinging, stay loose, and play our game. It is a huge home conference game for us, and we have to keep the momentum.
“The energy level is very high today, and guys were out there flying around and making plays. We were out there playing and having fun with each other.”