Finally. . .

Akeem Judd, the 224-pound tailback for Ole Miss, waited a long time to get his first action in a real game for the Rebels, but when his time came around, he capitalized and took advantage of his "gains" during his redshirt season.

On his first carry as a Rebel, Akeem Judd got into the open field for a brief second before two defenders converged on him.

He had a chance to run over them or make a move. He chose the move, to his chagrin, and slipped on the artificial turf.

"I should have just lowered my head and tried to run them over," he smiled, "but I was so excited to be in the game for the first time ever and when I found myself in the open field, I was just trying to show everyone I could take it to the house.

"I let my emotions get the best of me. Coach (Derrick) Nix asked me when I got the sidelines why I didn't run those guys over and I told him I didn't know, but it wouldn't happen again."

From that point on in the season opener against UT-Martin, won by the Rebs 76-3, Judd carried the ball a total of 11 times for 52 yards and whenever the opportunity came, he initiated contact.

"I'm a one-move back. After that, I need to run over people and get an extra two yards, or break a tackle and go further," he explained. "I know that. I just got carried away on that first carry. After I got over that first lapse of judgment, I got back to my game."

Carried away because it's been a long haul for Judd to get to this point after coming to Ole Miss a year ago as a junior college transfer and being asked to sit out a year.

"Akeem was coming off an injury his final JUCO year and I wanted him healthy," said RB Coach Derrick Nix. "He was also a little heavy. He came in around 232. I wanted him under 225."

Akeem took the redshirt suggestion and ran with it.

"It taught me to be patient, it taught me to be humble, it showed me how to be a team player," Akeem stated. "I just had to trust God and my instincts and my instincts were telling me a redshirt was a good thing.

"I need the redshirt to learn the playbook and to get my body right. I got both of those things done during that year, plus I got my weight down to 224 pounds and I am stronger. I can tell a difference in my movement and my strength levels. I lost 7% body fat and gained 3% muscle. That's good."

Akeem and Jordan Wilkins are very similar backs, but he feels there is room for both to get playing time.

"It's a long season. The team is going to need Jordan and me as our power backs. I can't wait," Judd closed.

He doesn't have to, the wait is over.

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