June 6, 2008

Ole Miss QB signee drafted by Padres

Ole Miss signed two quarterbacks last February for one reason - a lack of depth.

The signees were Nathan Stanley and Chris Wilkes and on Friday, Wilkes was presented with a option outside of college football after being drafted in the 22nd round by the San Diego Padres.

"San Diego, Boston, and Cleveland had been scouting me the most and showing the most interest, so I wasn't surprised it was the Padres," Wilkes said on Friday evening.

The bigger question for Ole Miss is exactly what did the selection do to the Rebels' quarterback depth chart next fall, where Texas transfer Jevan Snead is entrenched as the starter and Billy Tapp sits at number two and there's no other current players on scholarship.

"San Diego (representatives) are flying down Monday and we'll talk," Wilkes said. "It's going to take a really good amount of money for me to sign with them. My father and a family associate, who is familiar with these type negotiations, and I will sit down with them. I'll know more on late Monday or Tuesday."

Wilkes downplayed the possibility of major league baseball a month ago, but evidently his performance in the spring attracted several major league scouts.

In fact, a month ago, Wilkes called exactly what happened.

"I haven't had the exposure for the big money (associated with being a high round baseball selection)," Wilkes said in early May. "I think I'll probably be drafted the second day, but that's not going to affect me going to Ole Miss."

Wilkes is still downplaying the possibility of a major baseball career, saying that he doesn't think the Padres will offer enough for it to make it worthwhile to forego a college football career, although he feels obligated to listen.

Wilkes started ten games for Dr. Philips High School in Orlando this spring and went 5-1 with four no decisions.

"We weren't very good," he said. "The games where I got no decisions, I'd pitch until the sixth or seventh inning and then we'd lose after I came out."

It's as a pitcher that major league teams were scouting Wilkes. He played designated hitter, third base and right field when not pitching and batted around .300 with seven home runs.

One possible solution for Wilkes is to play both baseball and football at Ole Miss.

"I haven't been recruited by the Ole Miss baseball coaches - wasn't offered or anything," Wilkes said. "But I've talked to the football coaches and they are okay with me playing baseball as long as I get adjusted and keep my grades up. They say it's no problem."

For now, Wilkes still plans on showing up at Ole Miss on June 24 in time to enroll in the second semester of summer school, but the lure of a major league baseball career is definitely out there.

"If I decide to go (to major league baseball), I'll have the guarantee that four years of college will be paid for," he said. "If I don't make it to the "bigs", then I could always try play college football."

Still, while Wilkes hasn't set a dollar amount on how much it would take to lure him to major league baseball, he emphasized that he doubts the amount will be enough to keep him away from Ole Miss.

Wilkes is expected to compete against Stanley for the number three spot on the Rebel roster at quarterback, and perhaps even push Tapp for the right to backup 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.

Ironically, Davis was an Alabama signee in 2003, but signed with the Houston Astros in the summer of 2003, and after being released by Houston in 2006, walked on at Ole Miss, where he quit a year later.



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