Chief Is Ready

Safeties, both free and strong – or rover as they like to call it – are competing hard this camp. Coach Dave Wommack works with them and the group continues to progress.

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He said that's the way things have to be throughout the defense for the Rebels to have success.

"To play the way we want to play, we have to have extreme effort on every play from 11 guys," said Wommack, who doubles as defensive coordinator and also safeties coach. "Effort is the number one thing right now. If you are not all-out on every play, we will have to eliminate you from our plans. It's pretty simple. All-out leads to being more physical as well and that's something we have to be, more physical."

Chief Brown, the redshirt freshman from Winona, is one of those figuring heavily in the mix at free safety. It's a battle back there, and Cody Prewitt and Tanner Burns are the main ones also involved.

Brown sat out 2011 after coming in as a highly-touted Mississippi player. In the spring he began to work and to learn under the new coaching staff. Now he's poised to help this defense, which is already showing signs of promise, to be the best it can be.

Starting with himself.

"I've just got to come out here and work every day and be focused mentally," said Brown, 6-feet tall and 193 pounds.

And that's what it appears he's done. Making plays on the field. Going through drills with a purpose. Knowing this is his time to get in a game for the first time in a long time.

"It really has," he said of whether it's truly sunk in that in just about three weeks he will be getting ready for kickoff of the Rebels' 2012 season opener against Central Arkansas in Oxford at 6 p.m. on Sept. 1. "But I'm just ready for the games to come. Just take it one day at a time."

Chief Brown
Bruce Newman

Which admittedly is difficult when it's been so long since he actually played in one, that being in the fall of 2010 for Winona High School in Montgomery County. But it's given him some time to learn and prepare for football at its highest level of the college game.

"In the spring, I had to catch a hold of the defense," said Brown, a consensus first-team all-state player his senior season. "Now that I've got the defense learned, I can just go out there and fly. Just get better every day, and learn more stuff every day."

So he isn't satisfied. He knows he can't be, not with others involved in the competition for playing time.

Brown is known as a good tackler as well as a highly athletic player. He says all the safeties are getting better and will be able to contribute to a defense that is already having some good days in practice.

"But we need to learn more," Brown said of the preparation of August. "The safeties have a good understanding of the defense right now."

The Rebels' first scrimmage is coming up Saturday morning at 9:45 a.m. Brown and teammates are looking forward to that, to see where they are and see how things go in a more game-like situation, something Brown hasn't experienced in nearly two years.

"It's going well. We just compete every day," Brown said. "It's great competition back there. Everybody's doing fantastic, so there isn't any separation yet."

That's what the next three weeks should tell.

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