Trumaine McBride, the senior CB from Clarksdale, has been a staple in the Rebel defense since he arrived on campus in 2003 and played in all 13 games as a true freshman.
He is ticketed to be the starting right corner for the third year in a row in 2006.
McBride, who is known as T-Mac to his teammates, has seen the highs and lows of Ole Miss football, beginning with the 2003 Cotton Bowl year. He has good early feelings about the '06 squad.
"On the defensive side of the ball, the biggest factor is that we have been in this system a year and know it better," said McBride, an honor student. "We had some busts last year that were very costly because of unfamiliarity. We won't have those kinds of errors in 2006. In itself, that is huge."
And while the Rebels will have a lot of "new" faces in the lineup, most of them really aren't that new.
"Peria Jerry, Chris Bowers, Jeremy Garrett, Patrick Willis, Garry Pack, Charles Clark, Jamarca Sanford, B. Brown, Brandon Jenkins, Quentin Taylor, Nate Banks, me and a few others have enough experience - in this system - to be successful," he explained. "Any time you can anchor your defense with a player like P-Willie, that's a pretty good starting point. All of us should be a year better and a year more productive.
"We are also counting on some newcomers to come in and make an immediate contribution. It's hard for a freshman to do that - all you have to do is look at the adjustment a great talent like Peria had to make, but it can be done and we have some good players coming in."
T-Mac feels the secondary has a chance to be the strength of the defense, with an asterisk.
"We all know everything starts up front, but if our DL and LBs are as good as I think they are and will be, I think having all the experience we have in the secondary will be a big strength of this team," he continued. "I think all of us played conservatively last year because we were getting adjusted to a lot of things. I think you will see us take more calculated risks to make big plays this year."
In the offseason, McBride transformed his body somewhat for the better. He looks bigger and is stronger, which was his goal.
"I really didn't gain a lot of weight, I just changed it. I gained about five pounds, but I cut my body fat by nearly 3%," he said proudly. "I got a lot stronger in the process too. My squat went from 385 to 460, my power clean went from 250 to 275 and my bench went from 280 to 305. That's not bad in one offseason.
"I wanted to get stronger so I could be more physical in press coverage. My goal last year was to become more consistent in my every-down play. My goal for 2006 is to maintain that consistency, but be more physical in my play in press coverage and in run support."
McBride would also like to continue getting faster, even though he clocked 4.41 the last time the 40 yard dash was timed.
"My goal is to get in the 4.3s," he said. "You can't replace speed."
Trumaine is challenging himself to be "the guy" in the secondary.
"I want to be a leader and I want to be the DB who the coaches believe can lock down any receiver," he said. "If I can take the best receiver on the other team out of the equation, or limit him to below what he's used to doing, that's very big for the success of the defense.
"That's my plan."
T-Mac still has the bitter taste of 2005 in the his mouth. He plans on doing his part to wash that taste away.
"Whatever it takes, we are determined to do better," he ended.
T-Mac believes in Reb defense
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