Now Ole Miss fans would like to see him shine brightest in his college career in what might be his final game.
If the Rebels defeat Mississippi State on Saturday night, they will advance to a bowl game for the first time since 2009.
Mackey, slowed by flu-like symptoms earlier this week but expected to play, joined the program after an All-American junior college career as a mobile quarterback at East Mississippi.
While playing running back and receiver this season, Mackey has also been a “wildcat” option at quarterback.
He’s rushed for 270 yards and four scores and has 318 receiving yards, but he hasn’t had a game with monster numbers.
Upon arrival, he was promptly redshirted amid the unusual circumstances of the arrival former Oregon start Jeremiah Masoli, a quarterback who became eligible immediately after an NCAA decision against that status was overturned on appeal.
Mackey was set to be named the starting quarterback as a junior last season when an August arrest set him back. He eventually won the job but was behind on practice reps and experience when he started six games only to be suspended for the last two.
On a struggling 2011 team, Mackey completed less than 50 percent of his passes, threw seven touchdowns and five interceptions and rushed for only one touchdown.
This season he was moved to running back in August and after a solid spring even appeared to be the leader at the position as Jeff Scott missed much of camp and was held out of the first game.
However, Scott emerged and became the face of the run game – until it began to struggle in late October. Mackey boosted the run game revival last week at LSU.
“We should have had it. We let it slip away,” Mackey said of the Rebels’ 41-35 loss, his only appearance against his home-state school.
Emerging at LSU
Mackey, spending some time and wide receiver, had more rushing attempts in Baton Rouge than he’d had since getting 11 against UTEP in Week 2. He averaged 4.6 yards on nine carries and showed his strength to push the pile on a 6-yard touchdown run.
The Rebels had a great chance to really apply pressure to the Tigers after a Mackey catch of 37 yards put them at the LSU 16 with roughly 6 minutes to play. What followed was a tackle for loss, two sacks and a missed 53-yard field goal attempt.
“At that point, in my head, it was over to me at that point, but they stopped us and drove down the field and scored. They did a good job,” Mackey said.