Ole Miss sophomore Wide Receiver Dexter McCluster is what coaches refer to as a "fast twitch guy."
He runs fast, thinks fast and talks fast. "Fast" should be his middle name.
Dexter proved that last fall when in five full games, and the opening kickoff of the Vandy game when the hit took place, he electrified Ole Miss followers with 15 receptions good for 232 yards and 1 TD, 13 kickoff returns for a 21.1 yard average and 6 rushes from scrimmage for 68 yards and a TD against Memphis on a hidden ball trick play.
When asked how he's doing - physically - a tape recorder can barely keep up with the speedy McCluster.
"I'm fine. I haven't even had to go to treatment the last two weeks, which is a relief," said Dexter, as personable as anyone on the team. "I had a followup checkup two weeks ago and was released. They were impressed with the strength level of my shoulder."
Is there any residual from the injury that he can tell?
"Every once in a while I can feel a little twinge, but nothing serious. It's nothing. I'mn OK now," he continued.
McCluster is anxious for the 2007 season to get started. He did not like sitting out while injured.
"I think I proved last year that I can be a great contributor to the team through my hard work and effort. In the six games I played, I think I helped the team as a true freshman quite a bit," McCluster noted. "I know I missed it when I was out. I felt there was so much more to show and do. I thought I could have helped my team a lot if I had been in there."
McCluster, however, does not feel like he has anything to prove as the 2007 season quickly approaches.
"The team and coaches and fans know what I can do. My main goal is to stay healthy and finish the job I started last year," he stated.
Dexter, who expects to still be in the kickoff return rotation next season, says his strength level, suprisingly, has continued to climb, despite limited weightlighting during his rehab.
"I've gotten stronger continuously. I was always able to work my core and lower body, but my upper body has also gotten stronger through the rehab process," he explained. "Lately, I have been able to do everything everyone else does in the weight room and that's helping me a lot."
McCluster said the added strength has shown up in his speed. He was recently clocked in the 4.3s in the 40.
"I'm still not as fast as Mike (Wallace) in the 40," he laughed, "but that is my goal - to beat Mike in the 40. Even though I didn't this time, I got a lot closer because I was stronger and it helped my speed."
Based on a performance standpoint from last season, Dexter believes he has room for improvement in most areas.
"I was pleased with a lot of things, but everything can improve. An area I need work on is the blocking end. I also learned you can't take any plays off on this level. Any play could be the winning play or the losing play and you never know when that play is going to happen. You have to be tuned in, focused and intense on every snap," he added.
McCluster said there has been some dialogue with the coaches in terms of his use next season, but he didn't want to go into specifics. Tailback, maybe?
"They say they have some interesting packages in mind, but we didn't get into it real deeply yet. If they told me to get to tailback, I wouldn't ask any questions, I'd just go," he smiled widely. "We have great tailbacks, but if the coaches want a change of pace, I'm willing."
McCluster is very aware of the criticism the Reb passing game took last year. It rankles him a little.
"All people look at is the results, which is part of it," said Dexter, "but it gets to me when I hear that. We had a good running game last year and the passing game was not where it's supposed to be, but you have to look at all the circumstances involved. We were all freshmen, basically. We were all learning and starting from scrath.
"I know we are going to be part of the highlights next year. I saw wide receiver improvement in the spring and I have seen it continue in 7-on-7 this summer. I see it daily. We are dedicated and we are competing. We are focused and working hard."
McCluster ended with a fast-twitch smile, so to speak.
"We're going to be good at wideout. We will not be a weakness of the team," he declared.
And, if he doesn't have any unexpected setbacks, Dexter will be right in the mix, healthy - at last.
Dexter McCluster update -
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