Close Call

Ole Miss Defensive Backs Coach Wesley McGriff is the picture of health - on the outside. Unbeknownst to him, however, Crime Dawg was harboring a silent killer on the inside that was discovered, and taken care of, last week.

Wesley McGriff is a brick on the outside.

About 5-10, 230 pounds of solid muscle and perpetually in motion. High energy doesn't begin to describe him.

Unfortunately for Crime Dawg, you can't judge a book by its cover.

Lurking inside, and fortunately discovered late last week, was a hereditary condition of arterial blockage.

"I was having a little bit of discomfort in my chest last week. I wanted to wait until the open week to get an EKG, but (Ole Miss trainer) Pat (Jernigan) said no, no, you gotta go right now," said McGriff. "Dr. Jeffrey Dennis checked me out and did an outstanding job. He got me to Dr. James Purdon who did another outstanding job of putting in a couple of stents in my chest late Friday afternoon."

McGriff was surprised, especially since he had taken a stress test that turned up negative earlier last week.

"I'm such a superior athlete, they couldn't find anything with the stress test," he joked. "They had to put the dye in and found the blockage."

McGriff was staring at the eve of an important SEC football game with Auburn and didn't want to have the stents put in until after the game.

That's when Hugh Freeze stepped in.

"I talked to Coach Freeze and he told me I didn't have an option, get it done immediately," McGriff said. "He advised me the right way because when they got in there, they found a little blockage and put the stents in."

"A little blockage" is understated. Two arteries were 95% clogged. He was, in essence, a walking time bomb.

After the procedure Friday night, Wesley was told he could coach the next day if he felt like it. Did that surprise him?

"I was surprised I even had blockage, first of all," McGriff noted, "but after talking to the doctors, they felt I would be able to get back out there and coach on Saturday.

"Being in good shape helped me. The doctors were only worried about possible bleeding where they enter the body to put in the stents. They were not worried about my heart after the stents were in."

McGriff arrived at the stadium in time to coach the corners against Auburn and said he felt "surprisingly good."

"I thought I would be weak during the game, but I really wasn't. I guess it was the adrenaline and being in SEC competition," he added. "They were not worried about my heart rate going up or anything like that. The stents took care of the blood flow."

McGriff said he feels like a new man.

Too much bacon?

"No, too much fried chicken," he laughed. "It's hereditary. I got it from my Mom, bless her heart, who struggled her whole adult life with cardiovascular disease.

"I just have to reduce my fried chicken and catfish consumption, watch my diet and be careful what I eat. Anyone got any baked chicken?"

McGriff was pleased with the way his guys performed against Auburn. He gave them some playful advice before the game.

"I told them my heart was almost snatched out and if they didn't play well, I was going to snatch theirs out," he smiled. "They did a great job.

"I think Senquez (Golson) is doing a good job now with both the run and the pass at the Field CB. Charles Sawyer has been a blessing. He done a fine job at the Boundary corner. They answered the bell. We made some mistakes, but we got better and I think we are getting better each week."

Wesley said the win will have an immediate impact on the program.

"We called recruits Monday night and it was a great day," he closed. "Every high in our program, we have to capitalize on and we will."

Overall, a great weekend for McGriff.

A possible tragedy averted and an SEC victory.

Thank goodness on both counts.

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