Taking Over

When spring training rolls around March 27th, senior Jeremy McGee, even with his hand in a cast, will be one of the top candidates to replace departed corners Marshay Green and Cassius Vaughn. Read about his approach inside.

Jeremy McGee strolled into the interview room with his right arm in a sling and his hand in a cast.

Last Thursday, in a volunteer passing drill, Jeremy tried to jam Jared Mitchell, who has moved from safety to wideout in the offseason, and felt a pop in his hand.

McGee thought he had just jammed his hand and continued participating in the drills until teh end of practice, but he later had an x-ray and it revealed a fracture in his hand near his right thumb.

"It's no big deal," said McGee, who is expected to be one of the starting cornerbacks on the 2010 Rebel team, said. "I will just get a cast put on it and practice this spring. I shouldn't miss any time and it should heal just fine."

Jeremy, who has gained 12 pounds in the offseason and is now nearly 190 pounds, feels he's ready for the expanded role since moving over from offense to defense two years ago.

"My first year on defense, I was really lost. It was like being blindfolded, going to China and not knowing Chinese. It was a very hard transition and my head was spinning. I cannot explain the level of discomfort I experienced. I was always overthinking things," he smiled. "Now, I am fine. Each year has been a building block and I got a lot of playing time last year so I am way more comfortable and feel I am ready to take on a heavier role.

"It's not a real big transition for me to be one of the main guys, to be honest. I had a bigger role than people realize last year, so it's no big problem for me to move up. That does not mean I will not challenge myself and push myself, it just means I'm prepared."

Besides being penciled in as a starter, Jeremy is also now a senior and with that comes more built-in responsibility.

"I'm pushing myself to be the best I can be and to set an example for the younger guys and I am pushing them too," McGee noted. "That comes with being a number one guy.

"I look at (redshirt freshmen corners) Charles Sawyer and Ryan Campbell as my little brothers. They haven't seen any live bombs yet and I will need to be there for them, especially mentally. I'm trying to be like a coach on the field for them - teaching them coverages, letting them know what to expect on certain plays - those kinds of things. Teaching younger guys is important for seniors to do. We want them, when they get their chance, to not have to think - just go out there and play. The more we teach them, the more they'll be able to do that and we are working on that hard. They have it athletically. That's not an issue. It's knowledge that they have to develop and I'll be there for them."

While he's quick to lend a helping hand to the younger players, Jeremy still has work to do on his own game, he says.

"I want to be more of a student of the game. Last year I was still in a learning mode. This year I want to know everything. I want to sit down with my coaches and pick their brains," he explained. "I want to know offenses as well as I do our defense. I want to do what the opposition likes to do in every situation, every down and distance.

"I also feel there's room to get better with my footwork and being more precise."

The extra weight McGee has put on has not affected his movement.

"I have been hitting personal records in the weight room all offseason and my running has been at the top of the team, so the weight I have put on is good weight," said Jeremy.

McGee has heard the talk about the Rebels having to replace a lot of starters and most do not think they will be as good.

He likes hearing that.

"Everything we need to succeed is right here in the IPF. Someone is capable of stepping up at every position. Our coaches will groom us and get us ready. We are currently in the building process - one block at a time, but I feel great about this team," he predicted. "It's good that most are doubting us. That opens the door for us to shock a lot of people if we put things together and gel.

"We'll be fine."

Jeremy is grateful, as well, for the opportunity and for his position coach, Chris Vaughn.

"Coach Vaughn is a heckuva coach. I can't imagine playing for anyone besides him and Coach (Tyrone) Nix," he ended. "I love Coach Vaughn on a personal level and on the field. He's been there for me the whole time in my transition from offense to defense.

"I appreciate him so much for always encouraging me and for understanding what I was going through. He kept his patience and that's why I'm ready to step in and take on a bigger role my last year."

Jeremy McGee has some big shoes to fill ion being one of the players who will have to fill the void of Marshay Green and Cassius Vaughn.

Something leads you to believe he can handle it.

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