Showing Out

He's been somewhat overlooked, what with the number of storylines this spring. But Wesley Pendleton has had a productive two weeks of practices. He's impressed.

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Pendleton, who started 10 of 12 games last season, was made a starter at one of two cornerback spots on the first day of practices in March.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Pendleton has remained in the starting lineup throughout, his performance allowing arguably the team's best player defensively, Charles Sawyer, to move from cornerback to safety.

"I played one season. I got a season up under my belt," Pendleton, now a senior, said. "It seems like it's just second nature to me now. I just come out here, I know pretty much everything, basically. I go in, watch film so I can know all the plays so I can come out here and perform."

He's certainly made an impression on first-year defensive backs coach and co-defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff.

"I tell you what, he's one of the guys who comes to work every day with the same attitude. He's a joy to coach," McGriff said. "He's a kid that wants to get better, and he demonstrates that with his actions. I can see him improving every day.

"I've had the opportunity in my career to coach some real good ones, and I think Wesley's going to be in that category. He's got the size, skill set, mindset and attitude. I'm looking forward to continuing to work with him and watch him develop into one of the best guys in the SEC."

Pendleton was up and down last season. He finished the year with 19 total tackles and four pass breakups. However, he failed to record an interception, something McGriff has worked with him on this spring.

Wesley Pendleton
Chuck Rounsaville

"We keep stats from every practice, especially the competition period. Like I told Wesley, ‘Man, you're leading the country in pass breakups.' I'd like to see him get both hands on the ball and turn some of those breakups into interceptions," McGriff said.

"He's in good position. That's when you become one of the top-notch guys at that position. Like I tell all of them, they remember interceptions. They forget pass breakups and tackles."

Pendleton has quickly developed an appreciation for McGriff, who replaced Keith Burns as Ole Miss cornerbacks coach. McGriff spent last season at Vanderbilt.

"Our last coach, Coach Burns, he had the attitude. But Coach McGriff, he's adding the smarts," Pendleton said. "He wants everything perfect. You have to know all the plays and everybody's position so you'll know who's behind you. Just in case someone goes down, I might have to play safety. Basically, just the smarts."

Ole Miss is thin at cornerback, but help could be on the way soon.

A two-sport athlete who also plays baseball for Ole Miss, Senquez Golson is expected to rejoin the team in full following the baseball season. Two highly-rated corners were signed in the class of 2012, Trae Elston and Anthony Standifer.

And then there's sophomore Nick Brassell. Brassell has been limited to but a few practices this spring due to academic issues. In his last practice, he worked strictly with the cornerbacks, and was described by head coach Hugh Freeze as an NFL corner.

"I think it's deeper, if we don't have any injuries," Pendleton said. "We have a few people with grades. But other than that, it's way more talented."

Finally, December signee Dehendret Collins has shown capable this spring. Collins and Pendleton were teammates at Copiah-Lincoln Community College two seasons ago. Collins is again lined up across from Pendleton, this time at Ole Miss.

"It's like he's at home," Pendleton said. "Me and him were at Co-Lin together. Me and him out here together, we just feed off each other and just go hard. We keep each other up. He did the same thing at Co-Lin. He came in and fit right in."

Pendleton has a relatively simple goal for the final week. Ole Miss has three practices remaining, including the annual Grove Bowl game Saturday.

"My finish. I want to finish better," he said. "Sometimes I get tired after practice. I want to keep going, play hard the whole practice. McGriff and them, they keep it going. Don't walk. Run. Run everywhere. Just finish."

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