Playing It Out

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Not much has changed with five-star defensive back Antonio Conner. He's letting the recruiting process play out, listening to overtures as he combs over his top five.

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Conner, in Montgomery for the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic, has Ole Miss, Alabama, Mississippi State, LSU and Georgia as his finalists.

One school, he said Tuesday, is "sticking out a little bit." But there's a long way to go between now and national signing day in February. He's not ruling any of his five schools out.

"Alabama is sticking out a little bit," he said. "They like to win. They get after it. That's another thing for me, coming from South Panola, we like to win. We don't like to lose. They like to get after it."

Ole Miss and Mississippi State have long be considered favorites for the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Conner, who has ranked as the No. 2 safety in the country. However, Conner noted it's no sure thing he stays in-state for college.

"Ole Miss and Mississippi State? Good schools," he said. "They're in Mississippi. If I'm going to keep it in Mississippi, I'll just have to keep it in Mississippi. But you never know how it'll turn out."

Official visits will be important for Conner. He's looking for the right fit, a school where he's most needed. He's scheduled to visit Ole Miss Jan. 28, his only scheduled visit thus far.

"I'm going to schedule all my visits, mainly after this game," Conner said. "I'm going to go see how everything is with the coaches and talk to a couple of players and see how it is at this school and that school."

Playing time could be a deciding factor for Conner. Each of his five finalists, he said, have recruited him to come in and contribute from day one.

Antonio Conner
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"Mainly looking into their secondary, making sure seniors gone," he said. "I've had a couple coaches tell me that I'd be a big-time, key player in the secondary. Nothing will be given to you. Got to go out and battle for it."

Ole Miss finished 6-6 in 2012, earning a berth in the BBVA Compass Bowl in head coach Hugh Freeze's first season. The Rebels will face Pittsburgh in Birmingham, Ala., Jan. 5.

The Rebels are woefully lacking in depth in the secondary and will lose senior Wesley Pendleton following the season, points Freeze has driven home to Conner.

"Coach Freeze said he was going to turn it around," Conner said. "He's been turning things around over there. He's been getting after it. The games that they mainly lost, they were close. They always tell me I'd be a big help back there in the secondary. Hopefully, can change some things around some more."

Mississippi and Alabama will meet in the annual Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic this weekend. Conner is enjoying the process. Mississippi has lost three straight in the series.

"It feels real good, playing with a good group of guys," he said. "They were the best for their teams, now to come out here and do the best for Mississippi. We're looking to turn it around."

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