Tall Task

The cornerback slots have been an area of concern since spring training, but now - hopefully - things are starting to turn around a bit due to player development and a player, maybe two, returning off the injury list.

If Ole Miss Cornerbacks Coach Jason Jones - given the tall task of bringing along an area of concern on the Rebel football team - is worried about how his guys will perform Thursday night against Vanderbilt, he's hiding it pretty well.

As is his nature, Jones was surprisingly upbeat about the Rebel corners when asked recently.

"You know, we got a couple of guys (Charles Sawyer and Senquez Golson) back in the last week or so and that helps," said Jones. "Depth was an issue early in fall camp, but we were patient and took care of those guys so they could be healthy when they came back.

"We haven't given Charles any contact yet because we didn't want to take any chances with him, but he's been flying around, breaking up passes, laying out, things like that. I feel pretty good about his return."

But what of Golson, who just returned?

"Senquez still did his conditioning on the side while he was injured with the hamstring, so he should be OK from a conditioning standpoint," Jones continued. "He's been moving around pretty good."

Charles Sawyer
File Photo

While Sawyer and Golson, who were anticipated in spring to be the starters this year, were out, it gave Quintavius Burdette, moved to corner in the summer from safety, and Dehendret Collins, moved from Huskie to CB last spring, more reps to develop.

According to Jones, their development has been "solid and steady."

"Quintavius is a great addition to our room," Jones stated. "He's been a surprise. He's smart. He works hard. He does everything we ask him to do. He has good size and speed. I am excited to see him get out there and perform.

"Q. has been put in some tough situations in practice going against Donte (Moncrief) and that has helped him. If you can hang with Donte, you can hang with anyone, and Quintavius has won his share of those battles."

And Collins?

"Dehendret had a great fall camp. He has been locked in and has made a lot of plays for us. I'm very pleased with him and am excited to see him play," noted Jones.

Jones said it's been important to get quality reps for freshman Bobby Hill and sophomore Anthony Standifer.

Dehendret Collins
File Photo

"They both have good skill sets and I am pleased with their progress. They need to keep coming along, but I'm looking forward to developing them," he stated. "Also, you never know what is going to happen during the course of a season. Before all is said and done, we may need both those guys and they need to keep grinding and getting ready."

The question mark on the Rebel defense, all the way back to spring, has been cornerback.

Questions still remain because Collins and Burdette - the likely starters for the opener, have not played that position in an SEC game, period.

But based on Jason Jones' comments, and based on the expected return of at least Sawyer and probably/maybe Golson, those two slots may yield more production than previously anticipated.

Certainly, they will be challenged with the likes of Jordan Matthews, one of the top receivers in the country who caught 94 balls last year, and, if he plays, Chris Boyd, who hauled in 50 passes a year ago, lining up for the Commodores.

And there is no doubt, the Vandy receivers versus the Rebel corners will be one of the key matchups in the opener.

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