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Lockett hitting his stride after 'his best game of the year'

Austin McAfee/The Daily Mississippian

 

“I felt like myself again.”

That’s what senior defensive end Kentrell Lockett said on Monday about his performance against Auburn, which head coach Houston Nutt called “his best game of the year.”

In Saturday’s 41-23 loss to the Tigers, Lockett recorded six tackles and one tackle for a loss, and he recovered a fumble. He also showed an explosion and burst that both the coaches and he hadn’t seen yet this year, as he missed most of this past season with a torn ACL.

“I just felt good, you know?” Lockett said. “I was really challenging myself because I’ve been battling what I can do on the knee, what I can’t do on the knee. After I saw what I could do, I was like, man, let’s just play ball now. I just got into a groove.”

Going into the game, the coaching staff told Lockett he was going to play a lot, and he made sure to prove them right in doing so.

“It was kind of a battle with myself,” he said. “Me and the coach had been talking all week, and he was like, ‘We’re going to play you, we’re going to play you,’ 

“So, him just saying that, well, I get my opportunity now. I really got to show out. If I get one play, I’m going to do something good, so I can get the second play. If I get a second play, I’m going to do something good so I can possibly stay in there the whole game.”

Even though Lockett felt back to normal on the field in the first seven games of the season, the coaching staff didn’t feel the same way about his play, and his playing time suffered because of that.

“I felt like I was a go; I felt like I was good,” he said. “Whenever they asked me to get on the field, I felt like I was good. Nobody on the field is pretty much 100 percent when it comes to playing, but I guess the coaches saw differently and saw that I wasn’t the player I was before I got hurt.

“So, I have to show them and prove to them that I actually could, be it in practice or in the game. I’m happy they did put me on the field.”

As Ole Miss turns its attention to the Kentucky Wildcats, who are also winless in Southeastern Conference play, Lockett said the Rebels must prepare for this Saturday’s game like they would for Alabama or Auburn.

“It’s going to be a battle,” he said. 

“We’re going to have to battle just as if we were playing Alabama a couple of weeks ago, just as if we were playing Auburn this past Saturday. Every Saturday’s a big game, no matter who it is, no matter what their record is.”

With the slow start on the field in his senior season, it would be perfectly reasonable for Lockett to be wondering where his NFL Draft stock sits, but he said that hasn’t been the case.

“I haven’t even thought of it at all; I’m not even worried about it,” he said. “Just finishing out the season strong and whatever happens after that, happens. If I get a shot, I’m going to run with a shot because, you know, a ballplayer can play.

“That’s what I can control, just training and possibly going to the combine or, if not, just pro day and whatever happens after that, just happens.”