Future is Now

Ole Miss sophomore safety Tony Conner isn't thinking about the NFL yet.

That's not stopping national pundits from thinking about it for him.

Speculation for Conner's professional future is already taking off. He's held in high regard from such scouting sites as CBSSports.com, who ranks Conner, a first team freshman All-American last season, as the No. 2 player at his position for the draft class of 2017.

"It's out there, but at the same time, I'm the type of guy I don't think about it like that," Conner said. "I try to focus on my season and work at my season right now and let that come later on.

"As of right now, I just think of my play as a sophomore, going into my sophomore season. I don't think ahead like that. I'm just going to stay focused on the college level."

Conner played in every game as a freshman, starting 12 times at huskie. He finished third on the team with 66 tackles, while adding five tackles for loss and an interception.

"My first year was a great year, I'd have to say," he said. "I came out as a freshman and played liked this. I'd say it was a pretty good year."

Tony Conner
USA TODAY images

His interception came on his first career defensive play in the Rebels' season-opening win at Vanderbilt. He also had three solo tackles.

"It was tremendous," he said of the pick. "It was just a great sight. The player, I just snatched it out of his hand. It was great. I knew the game was going to change because coming to an SEC school from high school, it's a lot different. Playing at the SEC level is a lot quicker and a lot faster."

He's now looking only to build on what he accomplished in year one. Conner said he's mainly "working on my coverage" this spring. "I've got to get much better at my coverage." He's used to the physical part of his craft; of playing in the box against offensive linemen.

He welcomes it, actually.

"You've got to be physical with it," Conner said. "At times you're in the box playing with the big guys, at times you're out here in coverage. I like to go in there and hit, and also I like coverage a lot."

The future can wait for now. And really, is his future, what his position ends up being, set in stone? Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said this week if Conner continues to gain weight, he could end up as a linebacker.

Conner isn't so sure.

"My future is staying at safety," he said. "I'm not going to get down there at linebacker. But if it's a choice and I have to, I will get down there and do it."

Whatever is asked of him. He and the vaunted class of 2013 have but one goal: Atlanta and an SEC championship.

"We're a lot closer," Conner said of he and his classmates. "The class we brought in, we just stick together as one. We just come out here and work every day to try and get better. It's just a family. We're all here together. We're trying to make it to Atlanta."

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