By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
TUPELO – Deuce McAllister set a lot of records carrying the ball for the Ole Miss Rebels and the New Orleans Saints – and he isn’t that concerned about any of them.
Since 2002, one of McAllister’s top concerns has been his Catch 22 Foundation, an organization he started in his second year with New Orleans.
McAllister was in Tupelo on Tuesday for the foundation’s Championship Football Camp where the rain didn’t damper the spirits of the 77 kids who worked through drills at the Tupelo Sportsplex.
“The most important thing is just teaching these kids the fundamentals, the basics of football. They get upset because we don’t actually play football, so to speak,” McAllister laughed, “but if they don’t know the fundamentals, then it’s hard to learn how to play.”
The camp is one of the programs hosted by Catch 22, which has also partnered with McAllister’s hometown of Lena to provide after-school tutoring.
Summer youth programs are currently being planned.
“It’s all about helping youth, not only in Mississippi but Louisiana, just giving back to the community, giving them opportunities,” McAllister said. “I can’t promise all of them will make the NFL or the Major Leagues or the NBA but I can promise them an education.”
The 2001 Heisman Trophy candidate set several records at Ole Miss, including most carries (616), yards (3,060), rushing touchdowns (36) and total touchdowns (41).
McAllister, 32, talks of the friendships he made, not the numbers. Former Ole Miss teammate Terrence Metcalf helped with Tuesday’s camp.
“Some of them are still my closest friends today,” he said. “You’re appreciative of it, thankful, and it will always be home.”
Drafted with the 23rd pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, McAllister played eight seasons and finished as the team’s all-time leading rusher with 6,096 yards. His 55 touchdowns and 49 rushing touchdowns are also club records.
“I’m not really a numbers guy,” McAllister said. “I just tried to play the game as hard as I could, and wherever the chips fell, that’s where they fell.”
Released by New Orleans in early 2009 after knee operations shortened his career, McAllister was re-signed by the team as an honorary captain two days prior to the start of its 2010 Super Bowl run.
He was released shortly after when a receiver spot became a necessity – but even in street clothes, chants of “Deuce” rang out in short yardage situations in the divisional round at the Superdome against Arizona.
He later watched from the sidelines as his former team captured the elusive Super Bowl ring.
“It was definitely special,” McAllister said of the 31-17 win against the Colts in Miami. “I was just grateful and happy all our fans got to see it.”