It's been almost a year since a knee injury ended the football season early for David Fair.
The talented defensive player for the Yellowjackets tore ligaments in his knee during the Tupelo game last Sept. 2, had surgery and went through rehabilitation.
For the first time since competing against the Golden Wave, Fair will be able to join his teammates on the field for competition when Starkville scrimmages against New Hope at the New Hope Jamboree tonight. The Jackets and Trojans wrap up the day's activity at 7 p.m.
"I'm blessed and happy to play again," Fair said. "I'm looking forward to playing again and we're going to get after it and play behind our teammates."
Starkville went through a game-type inter-squad scrimmage with officials last Saturday and Fair was happy with the way his knee responded in that situation.
"It felt great." Fair said about his knee. "We got to go out, get after each other and have a good time. It was the first time we got to put on full pads and the linemen could cut the way they want to cut and hit like we want to hit. We just had fun. (The knee) is fine and 100 percent."
Going against teammates is one thing, but now Fair will see how the knee holds up against an opponent that will give a true test.
"Sometimes I think (teammates) take a little bit off because they see David and his knee," Fair said. "Other teams don't care and that makes it better. I'm sure (New Hope) will bring it and be competitive."
The New Hope Jamboree has been hosted by Mississippi State in past years, but had to be moved to the Trojans' home in Lowndes County because of turf maintenance at Davis Wade Stadium. EMCC was also tentatively considered as an alternate site.
After also exploring the possibility of playing the jamboree a day early, New Hope settled on keeping everything on Saturday.
The Jackets open the season in less than a week (next Friday) against Noxubee County so football coach Jamie Mitchell will use the jamboree to prepare for the Tigers.
"We want to work on some things with the jamboree, but that's not a big win-loss deal for us," Mitchell said. "We want to see some guys in certain situations. Our No. 1 priority is getting ready for Noxubee. Those guys have had our number and I felt like we let one slip away up there last year. It's going to be a big game for us."
For Starkville, the preseason has been a time of re-teaching some of the areas emphasized in the spring.
Mitchell said that even with an experienced team, players do forget things learned just a few short months ago.
"We had good carryover from the spring, but you've always got to go back and go over fundamentals and techniques," Mitchell said.
The Jackets have been practicing for less than two weeks, but they are still anxious to work against a squad in different colored jerseys.
"It's always nice to hit against somebody else," SHS quarterback and defensive back Gabe Myles said. "You beat up on yourself, it gets old and the intensity starts to drop, but when you go against somebody else and gives you competition, it makes you motivated to play. It's a challenge."
Also on the schedule for New Hope today, McComb and Louisville begin the day at 1 p.m., while West Point plays Philadelphia at 3 p.m., and Columbus takes on Noxubee County at 5 p.m.