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Mackey finds a new home at running back

Tyler Jackson/The Daily Mississippian

After playing two different positions earlier during his time at Ole Miss — quarterback and wide receiver — senior Randall Mackey has found a new home at running back this season. It’s been a long process from where he started to now, but at running back, Mackey is finally starting to see the results he had hoped for.

Mackey joined the Rebels in 2011 after being a standout quarterback at East Mississippi Community College. As a sophomore at East Mississippi, Mackey led the country in passing with 3,122 yards. Prior to junior college, he led Bastrop High School to three straight Louisiana 4A State Championship and was named a 2008 Parade Magazine All-American.

Despite success at the high school and junior college levels, Mackey was unable to make the impact that many expected from him. After redshirting in 2010, Mackey started six games at quarterback last season and threw for 1,112 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Ole Miss finished the season 2-10, including 0-8 in Southeastern Conference play.

Now, Mackey is looking to impact the game in new ways from the backfield and feels his transition to running back has gone well so far.
“It’s gone really good,” he said. “(Junior running back) Jeff Scott has been helping me out. It’s been really easy and good.”

Mackey and Scott are often seen at practices joking around with each other, but the dynamic duo also complements one another in the backfield. Scott missed time earlier this season with a back injury and has recently returned, and Mackey has used that to his advantage.
“Since he’s been back, it’s been a blast,” Mackey said. “Everybody thinks I can break a 100-yard run, but I’m not that fast. So I just leave that to him. It’s been really fun.”

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze’s offense is up-tempo, and the snaps at running back have been split between Mackey, Scott and freshmen Jaylen Walton and I’Tavius Mathers. Mackey has taken the first snaps in the first three games this season and has racked up 138 rushing yards on 32 carries with a touchdown.

One thing Mackey feels that he needs to improve on is pass protection.

“It’s come along really good,” he said. “I have to get my technique down a little more because going up against some of the linebackers we see is important.”

Mackey said the offense has been rolling and he sees a new confidence in the offense. He also said that he has enjoyed the opportunity to play in the new offensive scheme Freeze has brought to Ole Miss.

“It’s real fun,” Mackey said. “It’s fun for us, but not for the defense. They get tired fast. That gives us the edge with the big plays.”
This Saturday, the Bastrop, La., native returns to his home state when the Rebels face off against Tulane. From his playing days at Bastrop, Mackey has played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and looks forward to playing there again.

“It’s going to be really exciting playing in the Dome,” Mackey said. “I’m going to have most of my family there. There’s just something about the Dome — the lights and all that. When you walk in there, the environment is crazy.”

This weekend also brings some added motivation for him.

“It’s the hometown crowd for me,” he said. “I just want to put on a show for Ole Miss and my family.”

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