Reid Neely -

After a junior season with early injury issues, Right Guard Reid Neely is looking to go out on a high note as his senior football season approaches. Read about it inside.

Reid Neely was running sprints at the end of an August practice last year when he thought he felt something familiar.

He thought his Achilles tendon had snapped, like the other one had a couple of years before. Same sensation, same crumbling to the ground.

Turns out, he had an Achilles problem, but it was not as severe as the one that ended his redshirt freshman year.

Fortunately for the Rebels, then-senior Darryl Harris was the OL's 6th man and was able to step right in for Neely as the starting left guard without a beat being missed.

Unfortunately for Neely, it took him several games to heal and get back in the swing of things.

From the time he got healthy until the end of the season, Neely got significant playing time, and a couple of starts.

Now, he's aiming for a big finish to his Ole Miss career.

"We had an exciting season and even though my contribution wasn't as significant as I had wanted it to be due to my injury, I finished strong and got to experience a lot of good things from a team standpoint," said Neely.

Neely and the Rebels are all talking about sustaining the momentum they gained in 2008.

"We are not going to let up. We want to keep riding the wave," said Neely, an avid scuba diver. "We want to build on the momentum we've got going and do even better things."

From where the Rebels were roughly 14 months ago to where they are now - losers to winners, to put it bluntly - has been a miraculous ride.

"It's hard to explain the difference. We had an amazing experience the last half of the season. We got a taste of success and we don't want to be one of those teams that gets a new coach, does great and then falls off the wagon the next year," he explained. "We want to use our experience to keep building.

"We could feel success coming. We just had a different attitude and energy level. The new coaches invigorated us and it showed in the way we played."

From a personal perspective, Neely is in the latter stages of the offseason as spring break and then spring training approaches.

"I'm trying to gain more flexibility and keep my weight up," Neely noted. "I weigh between 315 and 320 now and I want to stay there. I've lost some fat and put on good weight and I believe I have gotten more flexible and faster."

Before the offseason started, Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson informed Neely he would no longer be the left guard. He would move to the right side and play next to RT John Jerry. Rishaw Johnson, the frontrunner for the other guard slot, was switched from RG to LG.

"Because of my body type, Coach Markuson felt it was a better fit for John and I to be on the same side, the power side," Reid said. "Rishaw is lighter and a little faster, so he will be the pulling guard. I think it's a good move and will work out well.

"I've played right guard, left guard and tackle before, so this is no big deal to me. In fact, I played right guard last year against Florida."

Neely thinks the Rebel OL will be further along from a scheme standpoint than they were last season.

"This time last year, we were learning how to get in a huddle and all the little things you take for granted. We were learning everything from scratch with Coach Markuson," he stated. "Now, we know what he wants and know the plays. Instead of having to learn everything from the beginning, we can use the time to get better and better at what we are doing and what we already know how to do.

"I really think we should take off this year because of that familiarity with what Coach Markuson wants out of us."

Reid is relishing the role of being a senior leader on the OL along with Jerry and Center Daverin Geralds, also seniors.

"We want to lead the OL, but we also want to take a leadership role on the offense and on the whole team. We have a great group of seniors and I think we will step up and lead the young guys," he predicted. "I'm not a big talker, but I will lead by example and demand the younger guys do things the right way."

As for the OL and having to replace Michael Oher, Mo Miller and Harris, Reid is optimistic.

"We are replacing some great players, but we have three starters returning and we have a lot of confidence in Rishaw and (LT) Bradley (Sowell). They are not freshmen - they know the plays and know what is expected of them. They are working hard and rising up to the challenge."

Reid is looking to go out with a bang.

Part of that will depend on his health and part will be on his ability to hold his weight.

"I played some two years ago at well under 300 pounds. It's important for me to maintain my weight in the 315 range, but I think I can do it," he closed. "Besides that, from a team view, we just want to work hard and keep the ball rolling."

Rolling to victory after victory. . . .

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