Rafael Little is ready to enjoy a short holiday break back home in South Carolina with his family before going to Nashville in hopes of showing Clemson why it made a a mistake by not recruiting him harder.
Kentucky will play Clemson in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl Friday and as much as Little tries to downplay what it will be like playing against his home-state team, he won't pretend this is just another game.
"I feel the same way as when we played South Carolina. I will be a little nervous, but I am that way for most games. I just have to get my mind right and not let wanting to win so bad get me down," Little said.
Little admits he's had a few phone calls from home about the game and has exchanged "friendly talk" with some players he knows on the team.
"Winning this bowl would be big for me," said the Kentucky junior running back. "Clemson is a team I want to beat. But I am going to do my best to treat it just like another game."
Little is happy to be healthy. He missed four games during the season -- "If I had not been hurt, I would have had 1,000 yards (rushing) again" -- and was not at full speed in at least two other games. "A couple of games my leg was hurting but I didn't want to tell coach (Rich) Brooks because I was afraid he would take me out," Little said. "I am 100 percent right now. I have all my speed back. That's the big difference you will see in this bowl game."
Little admits he didn't expect UK's offense to be as productive this year as what it has been."
"With the way we started out against Louisville, I thought it would be the same as last year. But we turned it around," Little said.
Why? "I think it is focus. We didn't have any focus last year. We concentrate better now. We work harder. We believe more in what we are doing," Little said.
Any surprises for the bowl game? "No, just what we usually do," Little said.
Would he really tell if UK was devising some new plays or looks? "I probably would," he laughed and said.
He expects to have 15 family members and friends at the game, or maybe more.
"I will have some fans from Clemson, too, that will be for me," Little said. "I just want to do all I can to help us win. We have to execute and not make mistakes. We can't have penalties. Clemson is good, but we are going to show we are better."
Little wants a win
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