The Rebels had two of their top four rushers transfer since the end of the season. This has opened the door for Eric Swinney to jump into the mix, but he also has one more goal in mind.
"Coach (Derrick) Nix told me to be ready to come in, work hard, and see where I fit in," Swinney said. "I've worked my tail off this off season to come in the best shape of my life. I'll report to Ole Miss in the second week of June, and I'll be ready to come in and fight for some playing time. But most of all I want to come in grounded and get a 3.0 GPA my first year at Ole Miss. I want to come in and make an impact for the team but also make an impact in the classroom. I've always been taught that if you take care of your books then everything else will fall into place. I'll carry that with me to Ole Miss."
The 1st Team All-State selection rushed for over 1,800 yards and 21 touchdowns last season for Sandy Creek's semifinal team. He knows there will be adjustments he'll have to make on the next level.
"Mainly it will be the physicality of the game. Speed wise I think I'll be there. Strength wise I think I'm getting there. My bench is up to 385 pounds right now. I'm squatting close to 500 pounds. Coach Nix said that's stronger than most of the players that are in his group. I just have to go in there and learn the plays as quickly as I can and get adjusted to how physical they play in the SEC."
Ole Miss is looking for a back to run between the tackles and Swinney feels like he's up to the task.
"I've gotten stronger and bigger just for that. I've put on 10 pounds
since the season. I'm at 203 pounds right now. I want to get that up to 210
pounds by the time the season starts. I'm getting there. A lot of people see
me and think I'm a scat back but if you watch my film you'll see that I like
to break a lot of tackles. I can go inside and out."
The added muscle has helped his speed as well.
"I finished 4th in State this year. I ran a 10.84 in the 100 meter run. I've gotten faster with the added weight. I have been training daily to work on my explosion. It's helped me. I feel like I'm faster and more explosive since I put on this weight. I tested my vertical Monday and jumped 38". That also improved. I was jumping about 35.5 inches before I started training."
The Rebels told Eric from day one that he was their #1 back on their board and kept their word.
"Coach Nix is just a down to earth guy. He's the reason I chose Ole Miss. I can see myself in his position meetings and just learning the game of football. He's always been truthful to me too. He's never lied. He said I would be their only running back they would take if I committed and he never wavered. A lot of schools tell you that and then they go out and keep recruiting other players at your position. Coach Nix stayed to his word from day one. I trusted him more than any coach out there. I know he has my best interest at heart. I was totally sold on him and so were my parents. That's why I'm going to Ole Miss."
The first game is the one circled on the schedule for the nation's #23 rated tailback.
"The first game is the one I look forward to the most. Hopefully I can get in the rotation for that game and make a big impact. It will be the most special game of my life to this point. I can't wait to get dressed up in the Red and Blue."
Yancy Porter is the Mississippi Scout for Scout.com and he can be reached at email@example.com