Ole Miss is getting a big boost from their crown jewel of this year’s recruiting class, Robert Nkemdiche, as anyone that follows SEC football knows. But one addition to the Rebels defense that has flown under the radar is the return of D.T. Shackelford.
The 6-foot-1, 250-pound linebacker has missed the last two seasons after a number of surgeries to repair his right knee. However, with spring practice 11 days away, Shackelford is the healthiest he has been since he racked up nine tackles and a sack in the Egg Bowl vs. Mississippi State.
Little did he know that would be the last time he would lace up the cleats and strap up the chin strap, but the time away from the field has only made him hungry to return to the gridiron and play the game with his teammates, and help this 2013 team live up to the lofty expectations that surround Hugh Freeze’s team.
Not only does the return of Shackelford give the Rebels another linebacker to a unit led by rising sophomore Denzel Nkemdiche, but his leadership will be a colossal intangible that will present an emotional lift to each of his teammates that have seen him work hard to get back to this point in his career.
His perseverance and determination to work his way back to health is a testament to his strength and character, and seeing No. 42 back on the practice field on Mar. 17 gives the Rebels more momentum heading into their season — not that they needed any more positives.
As a football fan, it’s easy to root for a guy like Shackelford, so here’s to a healthy and productive 2013 season — he deserves it.