Coach Dave Wommack knew going into the recruiting season
that the secondary would be priority number one.
"I think we have made so much progress on the defensive line and linebacker," Dave Wommack said. "We have to continue in those areas. If you asked me my number one objective for this recruiting class it is the secondary. I think we have some guys who have improved and have gotten better there but I am concerned about our depth in the secondary. You know we play with five defensive backs. Three are safety type, hybrid corner type, however you want to put it. If we get one or two hurt this season it is going to put us in a bind. That is very important for us. We need to sign three or four corners and three or four safeties this year."
The HUSKY position has sophomore Mike Hilton, Antonio Conner
and senior Cliff Coleman. They have picked up a pair of HUSKY candidates in
Alvin Moore of Bassfield, Miss., and Alfred Dickens of Olive Branch, Miss. Many
fans wonder what exactly is Ole Miss looking for in a HUSKY candidate?
"That's a great question. In like a 4-3, you kind of got that linebacker and you love that with the run. In our 4-2-5, our HUSKY allows us to be a little more flexible. He has to be able to play man-to-man. The reason he does because when teams go three-by-one against us he has to able to lock up in coverages so we're not always stealing the backside safety. If we play what we call a "try" over there that frees up our backside safety to be able to blitz and pressure and do some things that we normally can. That's why it's so important. That said, last year we took a small corner type guy (Mike Hilton) and put him over there. Ideally you would like for him to be Antonio Conner's size. Tony is playing that spot for us. We'll see how he progresses but he's doing a heck of a job there for us this fall camp. Mentally, he's been fantastic, and physically he's as good as it gets. I think we got the right guy there. We really don't recruit just free safeties anymore. We really want to recruit HUSKYs and ROVERs because those are faster guys. Some guys like Derrick Jones, he's a perfect example. Derrick Jones could probably play any of those three safety spots for us. Derrick in a year from now will be 220 pounds. That's great so he can move to free safety. Really those hybrid safeties kind of like what you see from the New England Patriots defense. That's what we're using."
The Rebels have committed three rover/free safeties in this class in C.J. Hampton, Calvin Moore, and Ronald Walker. Those spots look to be in good hands as there is an influx of talent at those positions on the roster. That includes junior Cody Pruitt and freshman Derek Jones at FREE safety. The ROVER slot is manned by sophomores Tre Elston, Chief Brown, and Anthony Alford.
Cornerback is the area that needs to be addressed. On the
roster the numbers do not look bad but many are upperclassmen. Those include
senior DeHendric Collins, Charles Sawyer, juniors Q Mireles and Senquez Golson.
There are some younger cover corners in sophomores Q Burdette, Anthony Standifer,
freshmen David Kamara and Bobby Hill.
They currently have one corner commitment in Quintavious Knight and are looking to add at least two more. But more importantly they are looking to add some height to the position as they have a roster full of 5' 9"ish corners.
"We would like to add some 5' 11", to 6' 0" foot corners. That is a big priority for us for this class. I am not a 6' 1" to 6' 2" guy at corner because I think those longer guys have a hard time changing directions. If your question is would I give up an inch if they are a little bit better cover and technique guy, I would probably go down to 5' 10", but we have so many guys on this team that are in the 5' 9" to 5' 9 1/2" range that we said hey lets go get some taller ones. We need to improve our size at that slot. That is a big objective for us for this recruiting class. We feel like we have some guys on our board that we are in good shape with us who fit that mold."
What do they look for in a ROVER and FREE safety?
"Our bigger safety is really our free safety. Most of the time he is in the boundary. What we do a lot of times is drop him down in the box on the weak side. Cody Pruitt is our free safety, and he is a bigger more physical type guy for us. Same goes for Derrick Jones. The two safeties to the field, the HUSKY and ROVER, are more cover guys. It is kind of a fine line. It is always hard for me to describe. You want tough guys who will come up and hit you regardless where they are. The bigger they are the better as long as they can run. That makes sense? We are trying to recruit bigger guys who can run who are very athletic. I think we have some guys right now. We are in great shape in recruiting. We feel like we have found exactly what we want at those positions. Now we are looking to address the corner position, but again, we think we are in really good shape with what we are looking for. I am really happy with where we are at in recruiting right now. I think come signing day a lot of these issues will be addressed."