McCluster pleased to be 100 percent again

Ole Miss beat Memphis 28-25 to open the 2006 football season. That victory might not have happened without the Rebels' first touchdown of the day being scored by Dexter McCluster.

With his team down 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, McCluster lined up next to Rebel quarterback Brent Schaeffer, who was under center, on the first play of the second period. It was fourth and one at the Tiger 31-yard line.

Schaeffer took the ball and handed it to McCluster, who slipped around the left side and scored untouched, the first collegiate score for the freshman. There were some questions about how the play had actually developed; it was that tricky but effective. The Rebel sideline erupted with uncontained excitement.

The touchdown and extra point, the first point after in college for freshman Joshua Shene, tied the score 7-7. Three quarters later, Ole Miss would celebrate its second straight victory over Memphis.

McCluster only appeared in six games last season. A collision on the opening kickoff of the Vanderbilt game caused him to miss the rest of the action as the season progressed from that point.

The 5-foot-9, 165-pound wide receiver from Largo, Fla., arrived back at Ole Miss last Friday ready for preseason camp. He's pumped up about his sophomore season and the hope of a winning campaign for the Rebels.

"I've just been so excited," said the former first-team all-state selection in Florida as a high school senior. "I'm just glad to be back with the group, and I'm ready to go."

McCluster was here all summer and is pleased to be cleared medically to play.

"I'm 100 percent," he said. "I've been waiting to be cleared since the day I got hurt. It hurt to watch the team and not be out there. I want to help the team and now I'm 100 percent. I'm ready to go."

McCluster, who says he will also be on special teams, says he's not too concerned about that first hit. He feels things will be fine.

"I'm not really worried about it," he said. "When it comes, I'll be ready. That means it's gametime."

McCluster said he was pleased to be able to help the team last year, and he hopes to stay healthy this year to be able to contribute even more.

"I came in wanting to work hard and earn the respect to be called an Ole Miss Rebel," he said. "I worked hard, and that was something I'd done all my life with my size and height. It was real special."

After getting some playing time as a frosh, he says he's now ahead of the game from last year at this time.

"Experience plays a big role, and I have one year, make that half a year, under my belt," he said. "It gives you that much more confidence since I know more what to do. I have to continue to get better, and I wake up living and breathing football every day. I'm just so excited to be out there contributing to the team."

McCluster says it's a team that has the potential to be better than the one last year.

"We've got a lot of chemistry, to be honest," he said. "Our defensive line is looking real good. Our quarterbacks are looking real good. Our receivers are catching the ball. The receivers are going to step up. You're going to see that."

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