OXFORD, Miss. (AP) _ Artie Moore never doubted he would get the chance to prove himself on the college level. But it took some time.

Four years after the former Mississippi high school standout began his college career at LSU, and then missed two full seasons after transferring to Ole Miss, Moore is a No. 1 running back again.

``I always figured I'd get my turn. I just continued to go out and practice and its paid off,'' said Moore, expected to start his first game for Ole Miss in Saturday's season-opener against Idaho State.

``I don't really have any regrets of anything that's happened. I think things happen for a reason. I'm in the best situation that I could ever possibly be in right now.''

Moore was one of Mississippi's hottest prospects as a senior at Stone County High School in 1991 when he rushed for for 1,677 yards and 15 touchdowns despite missing three games. He had 4,769 career rushing yards.

But when he got to LSU, he realized that he was just one of several top-notch prep running backs that had been recruited that year by Curley Hallman, a coach never known for featuring one back.

Moore got some playing time as a true freshman, rushing for 159 yards on 27 carries. But he decided to transfer to Ole Miss in 1993, when he had to sit out because of the transfer.

The change of scenery didn't provide an instant turnaround.

In the spring of 1994, Moore was hampered by hamstring and ankle injuries that cost him valuable practice time. He didn't play a down the following fall.

He got only limited time last fall behind Dou Innocent and Mark Smith, a senior duo who combined for 1,216 yards. Moore rushed for 217 yards on 40 carries (5.4 yards per carry), including 94 yards on 12 carries against Indiana State.

The only returning running back with experience, Moore responded last spring with 100-yard games in every major scrimmage. And he became a better pass catcher, a necessity in the Ole Miss offense.

``Artie was an average football player after the season last year, and I think maybe he wasn't into it because he wasn't on the first or second team,'' coach Tommy Tuberville said.

``He was the most improved player on the offense after spring practice. I think it's because of his attitude. He knew he was the guy and he has worked very hard. He couldn't catch a fly last fall, but he caught everything we threw to him during the spring.''

The 5-foot-7, 185-pound Moore spent the summer in Oxford, lifting weights and running. The only setback was a strained shoulder during a workout prior to two-a-days, but Moore is healthy heading into the season-opener.

Not only physically, but mentally.

``It will be a pretty special year,'' Moore said. ``I love being the starting tailback, but if I were just a player on this team, I'd want to be a part of it because we are expecting some special things this year.''