January 25, 2008

McGee plans to help Rebels immediately

Life's not been easy on Ole Miss running back Jeremy McGee over the past few years.

A pair of tragedies helped lead to a transfer from UCLA, and in his first year at Ole Miss, the Rebels struggled. Then the coaching staff that he wanted to work with was all let go.

Through it all, McGee's kept a healthy perspective while pushing through the obstacles with perseverance.

Hurricane Katrina and the death of his mother helped McGee stay focused.

"Changes come in your life, like when my mom passed, it's a big change," I just can't wait until we get on the field and I get to show them my talent.

"You just have to adapt."

On the field, McGee's had to show his versatility early in his career. As a freshman at UCLA, McGee played running back, corner back and wide receiver. He also contributed as a returner on special teams.

But during his freshman year, his mother, Genell, passed away, and he decided it was time to make a change.

"I wanted to get closer to home and support my family," he said. "A big reason I came here was my best friend plays here, Kendrick Lewis. I knew a lot of the other guys on the team like Mike Wallace who are from New Orleans."

And like those New Orleans guys, McGee shares a big personality.

McGee's favorite running backs are Reggie Bush, Barry Sanders and Clinton Portis, and the 5-foot-10, 185-pound sophomore said he's got the personality to match Portis - who often came to interviews dressed in goofy costumes.

"You know how we do," McGee said.

While McGee felt he'd be a good fit for the Rebels' old offensive system, he's ready to help the Rebels open things up.

"I'm looking forward to what we're going to do offensively," he said. "I heard we're going to spread the ball out, and I can come out of the backfield or line up at receiver. I feel like I'm versatile. Whatever happens, I'm with it.

"I think with me out in space, one-on-one with a linebacker, I'll win that nine-of-10 times.

The Rebels will be looking for production with the losses of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bruce Hall to graduation.

But McGee said he knows the returning backs are ready to step up and carry the load for Houston Nutt's offense..

"I feel like with the guys coming back, we don't have the experience that Bruce and Ben had," he said. "But, I feel that me, Cordera Eason and Derrick Davis have enough talent to fill those shoes. They're big ones - back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons."

McGee said he hoped to gain 15 pounds before the start of next season, and with running backs coach Derrick Nix on board, McGee sees good things in his future.

"It's really exciting. He looks like he's hungry; I'm hungry too," McGee said. "We'll make a good match."

After tragedy and on-field struggles, McGee's ready to just play football and ready to use his experience as a defensive back, receiver or tailback to get on the field.

"I feel like the more the merrier, but I really love playing tailback," he said. "If tailback is my main position and they spread me out and do other things with me, I'm fine with that.

"I just want to win. I'm not used to 3-9."

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