Mackey, a senior, deferred to the team as a whole when describing the two weeks of practice so far.
“We’ve had a good camp, the whole team has,” said Mackey, of Bastrop, La., and East Mississippi Community College. “The offensive line did a good job blocking. Our freshmen running backs did a good job. It was a good camp, a good, hard camp.”
Mackey played in nine games last season, starting six – as a quarterback. This season the versatile athlete is still in the backfield, but at his new position. He’s adjusting well, he says.
“I just try to do my best. It kind of feels natural when I run the ball,” he said of the change. “But I’ve still got some work to do at it.”
He hasn’t completely put last season out of his mind, either as a team which finished 2-10, or for himself.
“Last year, I still think about it a lot because, I don’t know. It was just a bad year for me last year,” he said.
Mackey knows time is running out for him to play on an improved team at Ole Miss and also to have his best opportunity at a career in the pros. He believes this move to tailback might just be the key to both.
“Yeah. That’s how I look at it,” he said. “This is my chance, right here.
“I feel way different (from last year). I’m a senior. It’s my last year. Just trying to be a leader on the team and all that. So, yeah, I’ve got a whole different attitude toward this year.”
And he most likely will be a force for opposing defenses to be reckoned with in the fall of 2012.
Getting To The Quarterback
Cameron Whigham appears to be at the No. 2 spot in the “bandit” position. That would be behind C.J. Johnson.
“That spot's very competitive,” said Whigham, a junior from Snellville, Ga. “If you don’t have a good day, somebody’s going to get in front of you. You have to keep working hard every day.”
Whigham, checking in at 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, said the guy ahead of him is impressive.
"C.J.’s been doing good so far,” said Whigham of the sophomore from Philadelphia. “He’s been coming off the ball and being real physical. He’s been doing good.”
Whigham said this season should be better for him as well. He played in seven games last season and eight the year before for the Rebels.
“I feel like those first two years I was getting used to it,” he said. “And now I’m more used to it and know what to do. I’m going out there and doing it.”
Whigham believes the Rebel defenders will be better equipped this time to get to the opposing quarterbacks they’ll face.
“It’s going to be a lot different,” he said. “The coaches have been working with us hard, just so we can get to the quarterback. It’s a lot different. Last year we had a tough time getting to the quarterback. This year I feel like we’re doing a lot better at that.”
Whigham also feels this year’s preseason practices will have the team more ready than last year’s camp did.
“I just don’t think we worked as hard as (we have) this year,” he said. “The coaches this year have been practicing, practicing, practicing, getting to the quarterback every single play. We didn’t do that last year. It’s a lot more physical camp than last year. It’s a lot different. Everybody has to work together as a unit to get to the quarterback. If somebody doesn’t do that, it’s not going to happen.”
So far, so good.
Rebels Met In Record Numbers
The Saturday scrimmage started the day off for Ole Miss. Meet the Rebels Day kept it rolling after that.
An estimated 5,000 fans, the most ever for the event, filled the Indoor Practice Facility to get autographs and pictures from the players and coaches, check out and perhaps buy Ole Miss merchandise, sign up for the Quarterback Club, order season tickets, and spend time with other Rebel fans ready for the season to begin in two weeks.
Assistant Athletics Director for Media and Public Relations Kyle Campbell tweeted this: “Thanks to the approx 5,000 members of #RebelNation that came out for #MTR12. Biggest crowd ever for the event. #hottytoddy”
Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze, staying until the last fan who wanted to visit with him had left, tweeted this: “Thank you Rebel Nation for coming out to support us today at our "meet the rebel" function! Great vibes ! Loved meeting you all :)”
Classes for the fall semester begin Monday. Full football practice resumes Tuesday.