Rebel fans fondly remember Deuce McAllister for his on the field accomplishments and good natured attitude off the field as well, and of course no Ole Miss game was complete without a “DEUUUUCE” cheer every time he touched the ball.
McAllister was a first-round pick from Ole Miss who played from 1997-2000. He had 43 career touchdowns, with 17 in the 2000 season. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 2001 and played there for eight seasons. The Mississippi native received Pro Bowl honors in 2002 and 2003 and is the only Saints running back to receive those honors in back-to-back seasons.
He is also the leading rusher in franchise history, rushing for 6,096 yards on 1,429 carries and 49 scores, all franchise records. His 55 total touchdowns are the second-most in Saints history and McAllister led the New Orleans in rushing in four different seasons. The accolades continued even after he retired. He was given the opportunity to return to be an honorary captain when the Saints won a Super Bowl in 2010. He was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2013, and the Allstate Sugar Bowl Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.
I was able to catch up with McAllister during his time at SEC Media Days while he was working with Johnsonville on promoting the “Official Sausage of the SEC.” We touched on Oxford, The Square, and of course Jerrion Ealy ahead of this season.
During your time in Oxford, what was your go-to place to eat? Has it changed now that you are no longer playing?
For me, anywhere on the Square. Old Venice Kitchen was my spot that I would always go to on Thursdays, just to get some pasta and other good stuff like that. The Square has obviously changed, you have Ajax, Boure, and some of the other really good places to go to. From a game day standpoint, we were always in Tupelo or Grenada, so the team meal at the hotel was different than the environment on the Square.
Obviously, I loved to play the game, but I think you can enjoy it more so as a fan. Now, you’re in control of what you can eat on game days and you get to enjoy the other side of the game-day experience.
Have you made it back to Oxford recently to catch a game or see how it has changed over the years?
I have definitely been able to see how much it has changed over the last few years. Obviously, the tailgating experience is unique in itself. Every time that you can make it to the Grove is a good one. I try and make it to at least two or three games of Ole Miss, whether it’s in Oxford or on the road.
Why is it that you and Jerrion Ealy are both so successful in the same position despite different playing styles and builds?
I have known Jerrion really since he was in eighth grade and it’s interesting because we both kind of grew up in the same area. It’s been really great to watch him grow up not only as a football player but also excelling in baseball. He’s always been a very dynamic athlete and the question has always been whether he chooses football or baseball. I think the shoulder injury kind of limited him from being able to play baseball at all in the spring. I think he is going to give football his all and give it another shot, but whatever he decides to do, I know that he will be great in.
He’s a tremendous athlete and an asset to any team. He’s one of the most special players and his ability to be able to get into space and accelerate while hurting you as a runner and catching the football. He is a weapon at Ole Miss and they have to keep him healthy.
There have been a lot of changes in Mississippi lately, but what did it mean to you to be able to stay in your home state, and compete at such a high level?
For me, the opportunity to play immediately and the coaching staff getting me ready and making me feel comfortable was huge. There is such a huge pull to be able to play in one of the best conferences in the country, and that helped as well. But obviously, it was important for me to want to have my family there, and being able to see me play. It was a little different then, and every game wasn’t on television.
So for me, having the opportunity for my family to be at every game was huge. I really wanted them to experience that. I visited other places that were farther off, like Norte Dame and Miami, but I thought it was important for myself and my family to have them there to see me play.