After two years of backup duty, nickel packages and special teams, junior Cornerback Marcus Temple is hoping to gain starter status in 2010 at the position opened up by Cassius Vaughn's graduation. Read about it inside.

September 27th, 2008.

A case could be stated that on that day the state of Ole Miss football drastically changed for the better.

Coach Houston Nutt, in his first year as the Rebel leader, got a signature win over Florida, who went on to win the National Championship, and a message was sent.

The Rebels were a team that could play with, and beat, anyone.

And from that game, "everyone" remembers at least two plays - Ole Miss sophomore DE Kentrell Lockett blocking an extra point attempt that would have tied the game and true freshman DB Marcus Temple making the initial contact on QB Tim Tebow on a failed Gator 4th-and-1 attempt that, for all intents and purposes, sealed the Rebel upset.

Certainly, others - like MLB Tony Fein and DT Peria Jerry - played a big hand on the play by jamming things up at the line of scrimmage, but it was "Temp" - a raw rookie - who made the first hit on Tebow and was credited with the tackle, one of the most important stops in recent Rebel history.

Temple, a 5-9, 191-pounder, saw action in 12 games that year as a nickel back and ended the 2008 campaign with a 6-tackle effort in the win over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl.

Flash forward to the spring of 2010, with the play that put him on the Rebel map long ago in his rear view mirror.

Marcus is now the heir apparent to Cassius Vaughn, last year's boundary corner, and the soft-spoken junior is ready for the challenge after two seasons as a backup/nickel back/special teams stalwart.

"I feel like one of the older guys now, I am one of the older guys now," Temple, a man of few words, said. "I'm ready for the next step. I want to be one of the starters.

"I like the younger guys looking to me as an example of how to work and how to get better."

Marcus has been steadily and diligently working to hone his craft as spring training rapidly approaches.

"I'm just trying to get stronger and faster. We're testing now and I have improved in those areas," he said. "My speed has improved."

Marcus isn't a real vocal player, but he leads in his own way.

"Jeremy (McGee) is our vocal guy in the secondary, but if I need to get on someone or encourage someone, I will," he said.

He likes the way things are shaping up in the secondary, which lost three starters to graduation.

"Jeremy is doing great in the offseason and I like the way Johnny Brown, Fon Ingram, Frank Crawford and Damien Jackson are looking at the safety positions," Temp noted. "Spring will be fun in developing our chemistry back there."

Temp likes the boundary corner position.

"That's the short side of the field. You tend to get shorter passes but are more involved in run support," he said. "You have to be on your game at the boundary. I like it."

Temp knows there are young players breathing down his neck to take what he currently has. Redshirt freshmen Charles Sawyer and Ryan Campbell are talented, and Marcus knows it.

"They are going to be good. There is a lot coming at them right now and I'm sure their heads are spinning a little, but with them working with Coach (Chris) Vaughn and the older guys helping them, they are getting better," he noted. "I'll have to work hard and keep improving to keep my job, they have great talent, but at the same time, I help them all I can just like Marshay (Green) helped me all he could when I was younger."

Temple believes he and McGee have a chance to be more physical corners. Both are now 190 pounds and he likes that.

"We feel more confident in being able to step up and jam receivers at the line without being thrown off-balance," he explained.

From a team standpoint, Temp is expecting a challenge.

"We are young, but all of us are focused. I see good unity and chemistry and think we are going to grow up and be good, in time," he closed. "The leadership is developing nicely. I like the direction we are headed."

The upset of Florida, and the hit Temple put on Tebow, seems like a long time ago.

Marcus is hoping to add more plays like that to his highlight reel.

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