Judd's background makes emergence that much more special

Ole Miss RB Akeem Judd, who has burst on the scene recently, came from the bad side of Durham, N.C., where few of his friends "got out," so he's grateful for every opportunity he gets, whether it's on the field running the football or in being saved by FCA Chaplain John Powell.

"It was rough where I came from," said Ole Miss junior RB Akeem Judd. "Early in the year, I was a little frustrated, but I learned to cope with not playing at the time because I am here on a scholarship, I am blessed to be out of where I come from and I have nothing to complain about. Whatever I can get, I am thankful for.

"My Mom is not in my life. I stay with my Godparents. I grew up in poverty. I was the only one around me to graduate from high school and to attend college. So, you can see, frustration over not playing was not much of an option for me. I knew I would get my shot if I just stayed the course and kept working hard." 

Akeem said he had some doubts early in the year as to whether or not he belonged on this level, but he overcame that.

"I realized that my problem was not knowing the plays well enough to react quickly in the tempo offense," he said. "I know the plays, but at game speed, I was having to think too much. Now I am processing my assignments faster and I am comfortable and in a rhythm. I'm good now and ready to go."

"But what brought me to the realization of what was wrong was meeting with our Chaplain John Powell. I actually got saved and once I got saved, things started changing for me and became clearer. I go to Bible study every Friday with John after our team meeting and it has really made me understand life better, beyond football, and it has helped me on the field as well. Faith is a powerful commodity."

The breakthrough came against New Mexico State.

"They were not very tough, but they played hard and it was an opportunity for me to feel my way through the mental barriers," he explained. "Since then, I have been tuned in. When coach called my name, I had to be ready. I think it really helped me that we went more to the Pistol formation too.

"I played JUCO ball in the Pistol. Behind the QB, you can see the whole field and get a feel for what everyone on the defense is doing rather than being to one side of hte QB. I am just more comfortable in that formation."

The success the Rebs have had in the past couple of games running the ball has been, Akeem said, contagious.

"We are all taking pride in the run game now. We are all on the same page. We all want to run the ball and we all want to block to let the ballcarrier succeed. We've got something good going now," he added.

He knows Arkansas will be another toug, typical SEC challenge.

"Their safeties come down quickly in run support, they have some real good players on the d-line and their linebackers are solid. It's going to be a good game," Judd noted. "We are going to have to gut it out one more week before we get a needed break. Ten games in a row is tough, but we are a tough team. It's up to us to get our bodies ready and get after it Saturday."

Arkansas will be tough, no doubt, but not as tough as where Akeem Judd comes from.

Thankfully, he came out of that situation whole.

Football games are easy in comparison.

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