Junior running back Eric Swinney had a run of tough luck his first two seasons in Oxford.
Swinney missed his true freshman season in 2015 after being diagnosed with a stress fracture prior to fall camp. A year later he suffered a severe knee injury in the Rebels' season-opening game versus Florida State.
A four-star prospect coming out of high school, Swinney finally embarked upon his college playing career in earnest last season, seeing action in 11 games. He carried the football 41 times for 195 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 4.8 yards per attempt.
He is locked in a battle for the starting running back job this spring with junior college transfer Scottie Phillips and true freshman Isaiah Woullard.
"I'm good. I feel like I'm back to playing football," Swinney said following Thursday evening;s practice. "We look real good out there at the position. I'm just real happy to be back playing football."
Swinney said he is beginning to feel like the running back he once was before the injuries.
"I feel like I'm getting back to myself a little bit out there. I'm probably just a little bit heavier, not as light. I'll probably lose a couple of pounds over the summer," he shared.
"Everything feels like it's balanced now. My body is feeling great. I'm feeling great. I'm taking care of myself more. Just learning how to take care of myself is really helping me."
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke has spoken glowingly of Phillips and Woullard throughout spring practice. Swinney, now the veteran in the running backs room, offered his own assessment of the newcomers.
"Nothing but great things," he said. "They learned the system really fast and are making plays. Isaiah is quick, strong, fast. Those guys are making plays. Scottie, too. They're making big-time plays out there. I think those guys are going to do really well for us this year, too.
"It's really different. I'm just taking a leadership role, helping those young guys out, like Isaiah, Armanti (Linton), even Scottie. Just telling them to stay in the film room, learn the plays...even when they're not on the field, just get in the cause."
While much attention has been placed on Phillips and Woullard this spring, Swinney is more of a known commodity.
"I'm getting a lot of reps. I'm getting a whole lot of reps. Those guys are, too. We're working out there. We're competing with each other. Just working every day. Coach (Derrick) Nix has got us learning plays, watching film...Those guys are in the film room all the time. I am, too."
The Rebels' next practice is set for Saturday at 11 a.m., a public scrimmage inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.