Junior DE Viciente DeLoach came to Ole Miss with a lot of promise.
Despite a serious ankle/leg injury that limited him to one game his senior season at Columbus High School, Ole Miss and Auburn battled for his college services with the Rebels winning out.
The Ole Miss coaches at the time knew he was a likely redshirt candidate due to a long rehab, but they recruited him off some staggering results Viciente had his junior prep season when he amassed a whopping 196 tackles.
It took him nearly a full year to get "back to normal" from his high school injury. During that time, he showed flashes of being a good college football player, but another malady - acute asthma - and being "small," at 230 pounds, for a defensive end did not help his progress.
"When you have asthma, it's difficult to play football," Viciente noted. "And when you aren't in good shape, it just makes it worse. Due to the leg injury, I wasn't in good shape when I came to Ole Miss and that triggered my asthma.
"For nearly a year, I would have to run to the sidelines and get my inhaler," he said. "Once I got in better shape, I was able to control it better. I still have bouts with asthma, but as long as I keep my conditioning up, it doesn't bother me as much.
"When you are in good shape, your lungs don't have to work as hard and you aren't over-exerting them. When your lungs aren't under as much stress, the asthma isn't as bad."
With the leg injury rehabbed and the asthma more under control, Viciente went to work on getting bigger.
"I gained to 255 pretty easily, but it wasn't all good weight. I had to get used to the extra weight and since it was not all lean, that took time," he explained.
Viciente played sparingly in 2004 and 2005, but he feels he made a positive step last spring.
"I came to spring training at 265 pounds and had some trouble at first with the extra weight, but as the spring progressed, I got more comfortable with it. I also kept working on my strength and dropped some body fat and added some lean muscle. Now I'm a good 265," he noted.
Viciente, who plays defensive end behind Peria Jerry, feels he can contribute much more in 2006.
"I was at LEO (rush end) before, but this spring I was moved to DE. I like DE better because I think it fits me better. I am better against the run than I am as a straight pass rusher," he noted. "I like the challenge at DE."
Viciente believes he can help that key position.
"Peria had a great spring, but he can't do it all himself," DeLoach said. "He'll need some help at that position, if he even stays there. The coaches may move him back inside - he's great at DE or DT.
"I think I proved in spring that I am ready to help out and I'm glad I've stepped up my game some."
One thing DeLoach learned in spring is that every-play intensity is essential.
"I always knew I needed to, but sometimes I didn't exert myself 100% on every snap. Late last spring, I went all-out on every play and found out it's not any harder than not giving it 100% on every play. I was always leary I was going to flare up my asthma, so I would take some plays off," he stated. "Now, I realize going all-out will help my conditioning even more and that will help out with my asthma condition."
Viciente had another offseason situation to overcome as well. In spring, one of his fingers was constantly popping out of place. He and Trainer Tim Mullins would put the dislocated finger back in place and he would resume practicing, but it wouldn't stay.
"In the offseason, we did an X-Ray and it was determined I had ligament damage and the finger would not stay together until that was repaired," he ended. "I got it fixed in the offseason and now it's fine - pain-free."
Now, he feels good about himself. No leg injury, not too small, no finger injury and his asthma under control.
This might be the year the "real" Viciente DeLoach stands up.
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