Secondary Speaks

Mike Hilton played enough as a freshman in 2012 to get used to college football. He played in 12 games and was in on 33 tackles.

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This preseason he feels like a veteran. In a way, he is.

"It's going pretty well. It's my second year at huskie. I feel kind of comfortable now," said Hilton, at 5-foot-8, 189 pounds.

There are some players who are recovering from injury in the defensive backfield, some pretty important ones. Guys like Charles Sawyer and Senquez Golson are hopeful of returning soon. But there are others who are in the mix, and Hilton said at his position a couple are right there with him.

"Actually Tony (Connor) and Cliff (Coleman) are behind me, pushing me to get better, too," Hilton said. "Tony looks good. He's real physical. He's a big guy. He moves quickly, so he's going to help out a lot."

Hilton said playing cornerback or the huskie position are both equal as far as his comfort zone. He wants to be successful when called upon.

"It's not really an adjustment," he said of an either/or of the two. "I just like playing defense. I like making plays. Defensive players make plays, so I feel like it was an easy adjustment (to either)."

Mike Hilton
File Photo

But he's made sure to prepare himself even better this year than in his freshman year. He said he's even more comfortable doing that, since he at least knows the ropes of college football better.

"I just came in with more focus, making sure I had the scheme completely down," he said of his preparation to this point. I'm trying to make no mental mistakes, and just make sure everything is right."

Hilton said the talent and depth are greater this year with the new class of players on board. He'd heard they were good, and it's proving to be the case.

"It's been a big help," he said of having them here. "We needed depth, and we got that. We have veterans that come out and start the game and make plays. If they get tired, there are other players right behind them. So it's going to help us in the long run. Now with this new class coming in and with all of us (returners) having another year in this scheme, it's going to be a lot better."

The Rebels were 7-6 in 2012, and there is hope for another winning season in 2013. The schedule is difficult, and the players know there are land mines out there, the first one in three weeks against Vanderbilt on the road.

"There really is no pressure. We're all out here for a reason," Hilton said. "We've just got to step it up and make plays and keep it right."

Right now Quintavius Burdette is at corner when Hilton is on the field. He said he sees good things from the Rebel sophomore.

"He's a real good athlete. He'll come up and hit. He can run," Hilton said. "But I feel comfortable with everybody."

And he gets a good look at all the receivers as well, some of them newcomers. Again, he likes what he sees.

"I'm really impressed with them," he said. "(Sophomore) Cody Core has stepped up a lot. Quon (Treadwell) is a big body; he's going to be real big for us. Quincy (Adeboyejo) is real fast, so they're going to really add some depth."

Confident Collins

Dehendret Collins, senior defensive back, said he's ready to step in. And he wants to be "the one" at his position.

"I'm very comfortable, very confident," said Collins, who played in 11 games last season with six starts at either huskie or cornerback. "I'm trying to be the one. I've just got to find a way."

The injury situation has helped him perhaps have a greater opportunity, although a disadvantage for the team until players return back to health. But as they work through those, other players, like Collins, step up.

"Charles (Sawyer) went down and it put me in an opportunity," he said, "and I've got to make the most of it. I started at a different position, and the coaches said they needed the best players on the field. So now I'm back at home (at huskie).

"Charles is a great guy at corner. I'll probably be behind him, but we'll see how it goes when he gets back."

Collins had some comments about other players:

On newcomers like defensive back Bobby Hill and others: "They're buying in. Taking coaching very well. Buying into the system. Everything's going pretty good for them."

On Quintavius Burdette: "Moving from safety, he's doing a pretty good job with his feet and his eyes and his technique. So I think he's coming along pretty good."

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