Ole Miss Tailback Mico McSwain burst on the scene last year as a one-man show at tailback as a redshirt freshman, setting the freshman rushing record at Ole MIss of 612 yards before suffering a season-ending injury with two games remaining.
Then, the speedy McSwain was cruising along nicely in spring practice splitting time with BenJarvus Green-Ellis before another injury - a freak chest injury - ended that effort.
With plenty of time to heal in the offseason, the thought process was that Mico would be ready to roll when fall camp came around.
He was, but ended up missing a few days with yet another nick.
Now, a week from the season opener with Memphis, McSwain is healthy again, trying to pick up where he left off.
"It's been a struggle for me since the end of last year. I've been working hard, but I keep going down with injury," he said. "I just have to bounce back and do what I do when I'm healthy."
Unlike last year, McSwain has stiff competition at TB from BJGE, freshman Cordera Eason and converted QB Bruce Hall this season.
"It's totally different this year. You better step your game up to keep up with the pack," Mico noted. "I'm hungry, though, and want to do something for the team, not for myself, but for the team.
"It's real important for me to stay healthy. That's something you really can't control, but it's my goal for this year. It was very disappointing to get hurt last year and not be able to help my team, but you have to live with that in football. You just bounce back."
Mico said his "comeback" is going well.
"I'm very confident about where I am. I have grown at the position. I have learned how to read defenses better, especially the guys up front," he explained. "I've learned a lot. I think I'm a better inside runner now."
The tailback position, McSwain notes, is healthy and in good hands.
"We all have our own style. We all bring something different to the table and I think we are all good," he continued. "I think we will be able to utilize our strengths and produce from that position."
Mico learned the basics of the tailback position in last year's offensive system. Tailback is different, he said, in the new system, so he is having to learn some things over.
"There's a big difference. Last year, I was running mostly outside. Now I have to run inside and outside, plus last year I didn't have to know all the stuff I have to know this year," Mico said. "You have to have more knowledge of what's happening up front in this offense from the tailback position. It's not difficult, it just takes repetition and some studying."
Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner has stated he would like to use McSwain in other positions than just a straight "I" tailback, but Mico's injuries in spring and fall camp have limited that installation.
Mico believes he's ready for the next step.
"I had to get the tailback position down before the coaches felt comfortable adding anything to what I was doing," he stated. "Now, we are starting to incorporate some different twists and ways to use me."
Mico proved last year that he is a playmaker. Werner is convinced of that as well.
Now, the questions to be answered are: will he stay healthy? How quickly can he learn what the coaches want him to grasp to expand his involvement in the offense?
Those are certainly his goals.
"I know I can help this team more if I can stay injury-free and learn more," he closed. "That's what I am praying for."
And so is the Rebel Nation, Mico.
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