Randall Mackey happy at running back

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
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Randall Mackey hasn't had much time to rest since new coach Hugh Freeze took over at Ole Miss.

Mackey began the Freeze era in Oxford as a quarterback, but quickly moved to wide receiver this spring. After having a pretty decent spring, Mackey was on the move again at the beginning of fall camp, as the staff moved him to running back.

The extremely athletic -- and versatile -- senior has his third home on the field in less than a year, but he's yet to complain about all the movement. He actually embraces it and thinks he's finally settled at a position in which he believes he can showcase the most skill.

[+] EnlargeRandall Mackey
AP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisMississippi plans to take advantage of Randall Mackey's versatility this season.
"I love playing running back," Mackey said. "That's the best one of all of them that I like. I have the feel for it now."

At first, it seemed as though quarterback was the best spot for him. Despite thinking he'd be a receiver for the Rebels, Mackey battled for the starting spot before the 2011 season, but a preseason arrest moved him down the depth chart.

But after it seemed no one could throw the ball straight for the Rebels last season, Mackey got his shot again in early October against Fresno State, where he completed eight of his 18 passes for 214 yards and one touchdown. He ended up starting six games and led Ole Miss with 1,112 passing yards and seven touchdowns.

However, he quickly fell behind Barry Brunetti and junior college transfer Bo Wallace this spring and got the early sense that his quarterbacking days were over.

"I wasn't making it happen at quarterback that much, and Barry and Bo were doing a better job," he said.

So, he was temporarily moved to receiver before running backs coach Derrick Nix got in his ear. At first, it was merely a joke, but as fall camp drew closer and closer, Ole Miss' coaches got more serious about moving him. When camp arrived, Mackey was officially a running back.

In order to get his body ready for the punishment running backs take, Mackey said he ballooned to 205 pounds. Unfortunately, that was too much weight for the 5-foot-11 athlete, and Mackey felt sluggish and tired. His speed suffered because of it, so he dropped five pounds and found his footing.

Now, his coaches consider him one of the Rebels' top offensive threats because of his running ability and the fact that he can still line up all over. Mackey said he'll shift out wide on some plays, and still has Wildcat packages to throw from.

What makes running back so appealing to Mackey is the fact that he can improve more on the field and just "play my game."

"That's what I've been wanting to do since I came to Ole Miss," he said.

"My style is just try and get the ball to the end zone."

One advantage for Mackey at running back is working with the starter, Jeff Scott. The junior playmaker has helped Mackey adjust to his new position with tutoring away from the field. Mackey also tries to mimic some of Scott's running style in order to improve his field speed.

The smaller Scott should be thrilled that his roommate is following in his footsteps, because it will help ease some of the load t a position that is lacking depth.

Mackey said he's a full-time running back, but will move around, which he likes. He just wants to help his team, and hopes that what started as a joke will have him getting the last laugh this fall against defenses.

"Whatever coach needs me to do," he said, "I'm going to do it to help my team."

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