And Then There Were Four

When August practice began, it looked as if there was an abundance of quality cornerbacks. The question then was "who will beat out who?" Now, nine games into the season, the question for Cornerbacks Coach Jason Jones is "who's left?"

You hear it every day from football coaches. . .

. . . "you can never have too much depth."

But when August practice rolled around for the Ole Miss Rebels, for the cornerback position at least, that coaching cliche' was taken with a grain of salt.

The Rebs appeared to be loaded at those two slots.

Senquez Golson, Mike Hilton, Carlos Davis, Derrick Jones, Cliff Coleman, Kailo Moore, highly-touted freshman Kendarius Webster and JUCO sensation Tee Shepard were all in the fold and competing for precious playing time.

One by one, either due to injury or necessity, that healthy list has dwindled.

First, it's well-documented, Shepard went down with a freakish toe injury that ended his season in mid-August. Then, Davis tore an ACL in a non-contact drill and was gone for the year.

Webster was coming off shoulder surgery and would not be cleared for contact for a couple of weeks, impeding his progress, and Moore got nicked and was out for a couple of weeks, slowing down his transition to a new position.

And that was just the injury situation.

Cornerback was also affected when the coaches opted to move Jones to wide receiver for a few weewks, then back to CB, now back to WR with the season-ending injury to Laquon Treadwell.

Also, when SS Anthony Alford opted to quit the team and go the professional baseball route, Hilton was prepped to play there some, which is the case this week with SS Trae Elston out with a concussion.

Technically, the Rebel coaches still have six cornerbacks at their disposal should anything crazy pop up, but with the way things stand today, they are down to four - Golson, Webster, Coleman and Moore - for the Presbyterian game.

Elston is expected to return after the open week, so Hilton can most likely go back to CB for the final two games at Arkansas and versus Mississippi State in Oxford.

That doesn't sound too dire - there have been years in the not-too-distant past when the Rebel squad had two or three competent corners total and were holding their collective breath for good health.

The current situation is not that scary, but it certainly backs up what all coaches always preach - you can't have too much depth.

Corners Coach Jason Jones takes it all in stride.

"Senquez will start at one corner and Kendarius will start on the other side. Cliff and Kailo will back them up," Jones noted. "Kendarius started against Texas A&M when Trae was suspended for a half and has done a good job. He's been tested and I think he will do well."

Jones has faith in them and Coleman, a veteran who has performed well in spot duty. From a fan's perspective, Moore is the question mark. What is Jones' take on him?

"Kailo had a pretty good spring after being moved from running back, but it was all brand new to him. Then, in August, as he was coming on and catching on, he hurt his side and was out a couple of weeks," Jones explained. "He got behind a little. Since then, we have been slowly bringing him along but that's hard to do because we have to rep the guys who are going to play the most with different gameplans each week.

"In the last couple of weeks, though, he has done well. I think he's back to understanding what's going on. I am anxious to see what he does Saturday. He'll get a chance."

Jones' meeting room has been bolstered by Golson, who has become a leader his senior season.

"He does a great job talking to the younger guys, telling them not to make the same mistakes he made early in his career," Jason noted. "He's been great in my room and on the field with nine interceptions."

Barring anything unforeseen, Elston will come back for the Arkansas game and Hilton will move back to corner. Jones is also an ace in the hole and can be moved back if needed.

So cornerback is not, technically, in bad shape.

But right now, this very minute, they have gone from eight to four.

You can never have too much depth. . . pay attention next time you hear that.

It's not just coach speak.


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