Jack Of All Trades

Senior Defensive Back Mike Hilton again proves his value this spring training as - again - he has been asked to change positions and -again - he responds with a smile on his face and his now trademarked response of "it's a great move."

Field corner, boundary corner, Husky, free safety, rover safety - it doesn't matter to Mike Hilton.

Why is that so easy to declare? Because in his Ole Miss career, the veteran defensive back has successfully played all of those positions.

Mike is the epitome of the term player and is indeed the consummate "jack of all trades" in the Rebel secondary.

"Mike's value to use is immeasurable," Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack has said over and over and over during Mike's three years roaming the Reb secondary. "There's not many players we can trust or call on to play all five secondary positions and know they will be handled with a high level of performance, but Mike has never let us down."

Or turned the coaches down when a move, another move and yet another move, has been asked.

In fact, he's done it with that infectious Hilton smile on his face and always with the same catch phrase to the media. "It's a good move for me and the team," he has stated, repeatedly.

"Changing positions just tells me the trust the coaches have in me to be able to make a move and still go out and produce on the field," Hilton said. "It's a good move my senior year because now I'm at safety, I know all the other positions and can make sure everyone knows where to be and to be a leader in the secondary.

"It's a good move."

Hilton was moved from cornerback to rover safety this spring, which began Tuesday. Because of that move, three-year starter at rover, Trae Elston, has been moved to free safety to help pick up the baton left by Cody Prewitt's graduation.

"Free safety is more in the box and has more run support responsibility. The rover has more coverage responsibility and has to be able to tackle in the open field," Hilton noted. "I feel like open-field tackling is one of my best assets."

Even though the Rebels were number one in the nation in scoring defense in 2014, the ending - a poor bowl game showing - left them motivated, according to Hilton, to do more.

"We've been harping on that bowl game ever since it happened. We had a good season, but we don't want to taste anything like that again," Mike explained. "This whole offseason we've rededicated ourselves. The workouts have been high tempo. We've been all-out in every drill.

"We're going to do whatever we have to do to maximize our talents, get the most out of our potential."

Hilton feels the mentality of the defense is still the same as it was last year.

"We have the same Landshark mentality we had last year. We've got a lot of the same players back and we feel there is no reason not to have a top defense again," Hilton noted.

Hilton also likes the looks of some of the newcomers, like CB Tony Bridges, and some of the redshirts, like DE Victor Evans and DT Breeland Speaks, who are expected to fill holes left vacant from graduation.

"Tony is real quiet, but he's also inquisitive. He asks me stuff all the time and he's very coachable," noted Hilton. "He'll be a good player for us. Breeland and Victor should help us a lot too. Breeland can be dominant.

"Tee (Shepard) is back full speed and Ken (Webster) is another guy we will count on heavily this year. I like how all those guys are blending in so far."

C.J. Johnson has also been moved - from defensive end to middle linebacker. With the same type of "football smarts" Hilton has, Mike believes that move will stick.

"C.J. knows the defense inside and out. It will be some adjustment for him, but he's a great tackler and he's got good speed to go sideline to sideline. That's a good move for us," Mike exclaimed.

Hilton is also upbeat about playing for new Safeties Coach Cory Batoon.

"He's a strategist and a perfectionist. He wants every movement perfect. I know he will put us in the right position to make plays, we just have to go make them," Mike added.

Chief Brown and C.J. Moore are also vying for the rover slot.

"Both of them can come in and do the job. We should be good at that position," he closed.


For Mike Hilton, arguably the most versatile player on the Rebel squad, it's no big deal.

He's proven that time and again.

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