Fourth in a series on seniors leaving the SEC.
Maybe we should have seen it coming after that first game against Memphis back in 2006, when Dexter McCluster rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown on four carries and added six catches for 86 yards. But this was Ole Miss in the days of Orgeron -- there was no reason to watch them or take notice of a young player making his debut against a Conference USA team.
|QB Jonathan Crompton (Tennessee)|
|RB Anthony Dixon (Mississippi State)|
|WR Brandon LaFell (LSU)|
Besides, Dexter McCluster wouldn't come close to 100 yards of total offense again until near the end of the 2007 season, when he gained 111 yards on seven combined touches.
It was in 2008 that McCluster started to gain some attention. He had 125 total yards against Memphis, 176 against Vanderbilt, 139 against South Carolina, 131 against Auburn and 180 in the Cotton Bowl against Texas Tech. In 2009, he started with 115 yards and two touchdowns against Memphis. And then he became less a part of the game plan. Aside from an 85-yard effort against the Gamecocks, he never gained 75 yards of total offense from the season opener at Memphis until the Arkansas game in late October.
Starting with that Arkansas game, though, McCluster became the Rebels' offense. He had 260 total yards against the Hogs, 203 at Auburn, 324 against Tennessee (including a ridiculous 282 rushing), 166 against LSU, 145 at Mississippi State and 229 against Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.
Part of that was because of McCluster's talent, and part of it was because he found a coach in Houston Nutt who is more than willing to put a player in as many spots on the field as he can play. And McCluster was a good back and a good receiver, making him a perfect candidate to move all over the field. You could say it took Houston Nutt far too long to figure out what he had.
But then again, we were all a little slow to realize what we were watching in Dexter McCluster.
|Dexter McCluster, 2006-09|