On the mend from my injuries
Updated: Friday February 16, 2001 11:50 PM
Former Mississippi running back Deuce McAllister is expected to be a top-10 pick in the 2001 NFL Draft on April 21. McAllister gained 3,676 total yards and scored 39 touchdowns in his four seasons with the Rebels. This is the first in a series of Draft Diaries from McAllister. Check back weekly for another NFL Draft Diary from him at CNNSI.com.
I'm close to being 100 percent from my injuries from last season. I'm currently at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center rehabbing with some of their doctors and continuing to work out to get ready for the Combine and my personal workouts. So I think I'm in pretty good shape.
I don't think not playing in the Senior Bowl hurt me, because I think they have enough film on me to look at. I have to take into consideration that I wanted to be healthy going into training camp, and coming off a postseason bowl game I really wouldn't have had the full amount of time to rehab my shoulder. I would've taken a lot of contact in the Senior Bowl practices as well as in the game. Then the time frame that it takes for that type of injury to get completely healed, I don't know if I would've been healthy enough going into training camp or being comfortable at that time with my shoulder.
Early in the offseason, it's just basically been a gradual build or a rehab type of deal. As I get closer to my workout in Oxford (Miss.) on March 21, obviously I want to be at full strength and peaking at that time. But right now, I'm basically in a gradual build, rehab type of stage.
Working out in Pittsburgh with the other SFX clients has given me a chance to meet some of the top players in the country. There is a great competitiveness level here, because they all have the push and the drive because all of them want to excel, too. And we all have different backgrounds, so I have an opportunity to learn from them in that way. We help each other on different techniques on drills, and teach each other a lot about people in general. We're a pretty tight-knit group.
We will all break to go to the Combine after this weekend. A couple of us will come back here and it'll just be time for individual workouts. I don't know if I'll come back to Pittsburgh after the Combine or not. I really have to see where I'm at physically after the Combine.
They have a sports psychologist here that has been mentally preparing us for some of the things that some of the teams are going to ask us at the Combine. You just need to have a game plan and be ready for the scrutiny that we will be under. The only thing that you can do is just really be yourself. You can't be intimidated by those guys because they are people just like we are.
If they are going to invest that much money, then obviously they have the right to ask you whatever they truly want. But when it comes down to it, they are going to pick the talent and the guy that they feel best fits in with their team. So some of the questions you may think are redundant or not football-related, but some of them may actually come down to a football question. It just depends on the team and exactly how much they really like the player or how much they take into effect how they did on that test.
Racing toward Indy
I plan to go through maybe the running back drills and showcase my catching ability next week at the Combine. And, of course, there will be the physicals. My best 40-yard dash time is a 4.28, but probably on a consistent basis, I'm in the low 4.4s or mid 4.3s. So I hope to run in the 4.35-4.4 range in my individual workout next month.
I would say my injuries last season were frustrating to a point where I couldn't play every game at 100 percent. But my joy was to be able to go out there each weekend and just be around the guys and be able to play, because that was the main reason that I came back to school.
Getting a label as being injury prone isn't frustrating at all, because I know the type of player that I am and I know that even with the ankle injury or shoulder injury that I played with, I gave it all I had. If that's how people want to look at me, and I can continue to be their focal point even while injured, then it says a lot about me as a player.
My senior season was a season of high expectations on me as well as the team. A lot of people say that we didn't live up to some of the talent level that we had, but once you look at it closely, I think injuries played a heavy part in it and we just didn't play well when we needed to. But I think it was a successful year because they signed a great recruiting class and I think the Ole Miss program is headed in the right direction. I'm extremely proud of some of the accomplishments that we had as a team and that I had as a player.
It was extremely important for me to get my degree. I'll only be able to play football for maybe, at most, 14-15 years, and you are probably stretching it at that. I understand that I won't be able to play football all of my life, so I want to be able to help my family and be productive in the world.
I'm only six hours away from graduating and I've started my correspondence classes to finish up those six hours of Spanish. I'll be able to walk in May with my degree in criminal justice with a minor in English. Right now it's just a minor in English, but I only need maybe nine hours to have a double major in English and criminal justice.
I would describe myself as a team leader, but maybe not so much more vocal, but I'm going to lead you by example. I don't mind the pressure of being a leader because I feel like my just is to go make my team better.
I think I'm equally strong running and passing. I think I have exceptional hands for a back because I can line up as a receiver. But I do have enough power and speed as a running back to be able to hit the hole inside as well as enough speed to get outside. So I think I have a lot of strengths.
I love the challenge of lining up as a receiver and getting involved in the passing game. I know I'm a running back, but I love the challenge of being able to go out there. They call it the island for the defensive back -- I'm coming out there to his home and I want the ball regardless.
I think I can bring a lot of versatility and mismatches to an offense. The game has become a game of speed and developing mismatches when teams have to line a linebacker or a safety up on a running back that is exceptionally good at catching the ball. Then I think you give yourself an advantage.
There are definitely athletes out there who can guard me as a receiver, but you want that challenge. You want to see, and hopefully nine times out of 10 you can win that matchup. That's what you have to thrive on. You have to want the ball in those situations. Obviously you aren't going to catch it all the time, but you have to believe that you are.