Billy Tapp has one of the toughest jobs on the Ole Miss football team.
Each week, he has to prepare for an opposing defense, knowing at any moment he could be forced into action as the leader of a Southeastern Conference club.
Each week, Tapp also has to mentally and emotionally prepare for the very real possibility that he won’t play down, knowing that most of the fans in the stadium to cheer for the Rebels are hoping he’s nothing more than a clipboard holder and ultimately, a human victory cigar.
“The best way to do that is pretty much the same way I’ve been trying to treat everything in the spring and the summer since they named Jevan Snead the starter,” Tapp said Monday. “I try to just realize that I’m one play away from being the leader of this team. That’s something that I try to relate to the guys. I try to let them know that even with Jevan there, I try to be a leader of this team. I need to get that respect from them. I could see the field a lot this year or I couldn’t see it at all, but that’s not my mindset. I’m ready to play as soon as I get the chance, whether that’s if he gets hurt or if something happens. I’m ready to go as soon as the first snap against Memphis takes place.”
For his part, Tapp is just happy to be back under center after a failed _ and ill-conceived _ stint as a tight end. Tapp was one of the more pleasant surprises of the spring when he solidified his role as the Rebels’ backup quarterback.
“I think I did a pretty good job during spring just to learn the offense and trying to get inside (Ole Miss offensive coordinator) Coach (Kent) Austin’s head and know what he is thinking and the plays he’s going to be calling.
“I think probably after the first two weeks, I was able to settle down and realize that they’re calling the plays for a purpose and knowing what they wanted to get out of certain plays. That’s when I really felt comfortable, knowing the receivers’ depths and things like that.”