But he's stuck with it and is pleased he has. There were tough times but he persevered. Now as the 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end from Columbus enters season five with the program, the wait and the work's been worth it. He's excited about what's going on with the Rebel defense this preseason.
"I've seen a lot," he said with a bit of a smile that likely meant the road hasn't always been smooth since he arrived in the summer of 2003. "I've seen a lot of defenses come and go. It looks like we're going to be a great defense this year. I feel like it's a strength of our team."
One of those strengths comes from the leadership and work ethic of DeLoach.
"I've been trying for years," he said. "I've been sticking with it. There's always another hurdle, but I just try to get over it. I get right back out there and go again. There's never time to get down. There's only time to get better."
It's what he's tried to do again this August. He missed spring practice with a knee injury. But he's back now as he gets his shot to learn under new defensive coordinator John Thompson.
"It's been a pretty good camp," he said. "He's done a good job. I like him. The defense is coming along real well with a lot of young guys."
Their aggressiveness is showing up, he said.
"There's a lot of energy. We hear ‘Run to the ball. Run to the ball.' It's starting to become a habit. They're all about strip attempts."
Depth is also showing as the Rebel program moves into season three under head coach Ed Orgeron. DeLoach, who played in 10 of the Rebs' 12 games last season with three starts at defensive end, says that's made things a whole lot better. He remembers the old days, which were not so long ago.
"It's hard going with fewer defensive lineman. We would rotate in at different positions. Like ends would play nose tackle or tackles. It was hard. It wasn't impossible, but it was hard to keep your mind in the right state when you've got to go 100 reps. It's great when Coach calls ones and they go out there and then calls twos and they go out there. Your legs are fresher than they used to be, and you can do what you want to do and need to do out there. You can focus on your steps without worrying am I going with the ones and the twos today. Am I going to have to go eight plays or 12 plays instead of four. It's much better to have those rotations."
DeLoach wants the Rebels to experience a bowl season like they did his redshirt freshman season of 2003. He feels the team is showing signs of the life it did when Ole Miss was a regular bowl participant.
"That was a great experience," he said of the 2003 season. "There was a lot of loyalty and everybody was friends and hanging out together. There was togetherness, and that's coming back. We're all hanging out with each other. It's not like a job anymore. It's like you're out there with your friends and working toward a goal. That's what it takes to get to a bowl game."
And don't doubt for a minute that DeLoach doesn't know what he's talking about. Fifth-year seniors "have been there."
"I've been here so long, it's almost like nothing's new to me," said the Engineering major who was a Beta Club and National Honor Society member in high school and has been on the UMAA Honor Roll several times in his UM career. "It's all about getting better at your steps. Getting better at what you think you weren't doing well last year. I've been through some injuries, and I've come through and stuck with it. It's now about getting better at what you already know. I'm in the best shape I've been in. That will help, too. I'm looking forward to this last season being a good one."
DeLoach ready for last season to be best
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