Dedicated Teammate

Trae Elston is a veteran of college football wars now. He’s hoping his third year is his best yet. He feels sure it’s the best team he’s played on at Ole Miss so far. And the other two have been bowl game winners.

“It’s going pretty good,” he said of camp. “Our first-team defense and our second-team defense are really good. We’re just trying to prove ourselves every day and get ready for Boise State.”

That comes in three weeks, on Thursday Aug. 28, in Atlanta. Until that time, the Rebels continue to progress as a team.

Elston said depth at each position is apparent, and it’s making all the players work even harder.

“Anthony Alford and Dave Kamara are pushing me very hard,” he said. “I’m glad they are doing that, because they’re improving our team.”

Elston has played in every game since he’s been at Ole Miss. Except one. He was suspended by the Southeastern Conference for what was deemed a “flagrant and dangerous act” when he hit a UTEP wide receiver late in the Rebels’ 28-10 win in 2012. He missed the game the following week against the Texas Longhorns in Oxford.

Elston had 61 total tackles his freshman season, 32 of them solos. Last season as a sophomore, he had 62 tackles with 42 of the solo variety.

The Rebels’ defense is a team strength. Nine starters return from the 8-5 squad last season.

Ole Miss safety Trae Elston.

It’s a veteran group. Elston said they’re even better this year.

“Our defense has improved so much,” he said, specifically mentioning how far they’ve come from his first season to now. “We’re getting better and better players. Everybody is getting all in for our university. We just play defense.”

After Thursday’s practice, Elston was specifically asked about fellow junior defensive back Mike Hilton.

“Mike Hilton, from my point of view, is one of the corners and he fits in that husky,” he said of the talented Hilton’s versatility. “He can play free safety for us. He goes back and forth a lot, which is good for us. He and Cliff Coleman both do the same thing.”

Elston said he has committed himself to be the best he can be this season, and it started way back last winter.

"Ever since the end of my sophomore season, I told myself I had to improve,” said the 6-foot, 195-pounder from Oxford, Ala. “And my teammates and my coaches are staying on me to continue to get better and better. One of those things is just my feet work. I’ve been working on that in the offseason very hard.”

Elston, who has also been returning punts in practice, said he wants to excel in that regard as well.

“The coaches put me in position to punt return, and I’m working to try to do my best at it,” he said.

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