When you reach one-name status, you have arrived.
While Rebel Wide Receiver/Quarterback/Tailback/Return Specialist Dexter McCluster has not attained that level outside of Ole Miss circles, Dexter is all that is needed for Rebel fans.
Say 'Dexter' to any Red & Blue follower, and there is no doubt he or she will know exactly who you are talking about.
And rightfully so.
Since the day he stepped on the campus of The University of Mississippi, McCluster has been electrifying and dynamic.
A little guy with a big heart always draws admirers, but one who can also leave defenders in his wake is icing on the recognition cake.
There's only one major reason Dex has not drawn more regional and national attention - he has not had a healthy season yet.
There always seems to be an * by his name.
"*Dexter McCluster is one of the most dynamic players in the college game."
* - If he can stay healthy.
So when Rebel Coach Houston Nutt watched Dexter in spring training and declared he was going to use #22 (Deuce's number, by the by) "all over the field," Rebel fans held their collective breath.
Nutt was quickly reminded of Dexter's history of injury, but he held steadfast in his belief that McCluster could play smart and thrive.
"Dexter is vital to this offense, but how vital would he be if we were afraid to use him?" asked Nutt in the preseason. "He's a football player. We're going to let him play the game. Sure, we all have to be smart with how we use him and he has to be smart too.
"He needs to avoid as many big hits as he can by getting down or getting out of bounds, but the kid likes to play the game and we are not going to put a bit in his mouth rendering him less effective. We are going to use our weapons and he's one of our biggest guns."
That was evident in the season-opening win over Memphis in which Dexter was the leading receiver with four catches for 61 yards and one of the top rushers with 65 yards on 6 carries, including a 32-yard run around end that was over in a flash.
Dexter has dual personalities about his 5-8, 170-pound frame.
On one hand, he spends half his time trying to prove that being little is not a big deal if you have the heart and fight of a mother protecting her young.
On the other, he talks about his size frequently.
"I'm a little guy, but I use that to my advantage," he says often.
No matter how he got there, however, Dexter has endeared himself with the Rebel nation.
"When he's out there, you just feel like something big can happen on every snap," said WR Coach Ron Dickerson. "We have several playmakers at wideout, but Dexter can take it to another level."
Dexter strikes a nerve when he's on the field. There's the excitement angle of knowing how dangerous he is and the thought in the back of your head remembering the vicious, debilitating hit he took as a freshman in the Vandy game that ended his season, and part of the next one, in a flash. The combination puts you on the edge of your seat holding your breath and bursting at the seams in the same instant.
McCluster seems unaffected by it all. It's just football, a game he loves and has no fear of. He's a David in a world of Goliaths, but you'd never know it watching him play.
The latest challenge for Dex is running the Wild Rebel formation that Nutt brought with him from "the other school."
Dexter lines up in the shotgun for a direct snap while QB Jevan Snead splits out wide as a receiver. Then he has to read the defense in order to decide, in a matter of a second or two, whether to keep the ball, hand it off, pitch it or throw it.
He loves the Wild Rebel when it is called.
"You have to be ready for anything the coaches ask you to do and I love that they asked me to run the Wild Rebel," Dexter noted. "At first, I was having some issues with getting my timing down because I haven't played QB since high school, but once I got that down and built some confidence in the set, I love when it's called."
McCluster feels the set can be effective even now that the element of surprise is no longer on the side of the Rebels.
"If we execute it right, it will work even if the defense knows it's coming," Dexter said. "I'm a little dude and can hide back there until I make my decision and by the time they see me, it's too late.
"It's good to have that in our package because it makes us harder to prepare for. If I was a defensive player for the other team, it would worry me to have to see that set mixed in with everything else we do."
McCluster said he was happy with the 41-point production versus Memphis, but he - like everyone else on the team - felt there were more points to be had in the contest.
"We haven't seen 41 points around here in a while, and that felt good, but our timing was off a bit. Once we get that down, we could be real special," he stated.
Dexter doesn't remember much about the Wake Forest game two years ago, except it was raining, which it is forecasted to do this time around as well.
"On the road, you have to try to make the home team feel uncomfortable in their own house," he closed. "I think we are capable of doing that."
Remember the name.
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