Four Years Later

Roughly four years ago, Ole Miss senior Free Safety Trae Elston was being recruited by Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn and several other top universities. On the heels of being a big part of two straight victories over the Tide, something Ole Miss had never done before, he knows he made the right choice.

"My parents wanted me to go out of state," said Elston, who hails, coincidentally, from another Oxford, the Alabama variety. "I didn't much like Auburn after they lost the coaches who were recruiting me, but I did like Alabama.

"The problem was that they were loaded with safeties and I probably would have been redshirted and then would have played a year as a nickel back or something part time. At Ole Miss, they needed immediate help and I have been a starter on defense since I stepped on campus, essentially. I wouldn't trade that for anything, plus I have gotten a good education, have seen a different part of the South and have made lifelong friends."

And another thing - his team has now beaten that same Alabama program he considered twice in a row after Saturday's 43-37 win in Tuscaloosa and in that game Elston had his third interception in three games.

(The first two, he returned for TDs. The one against the Tide was a nice return as well, but not "to the house.")

"Yes, there is that, beating them twice in a row," Trae smiled. "Not many teams beat Alabama twice in a row. They have a great program with great players, but we were able to pull it off. And it wasn't a fluke.

"Last year we thought we could win and went out and did it. This year we knew we could win and also went out and did it. There was definitely a different mindset this year, but both wins were special."

The Rebel defense caused three turnovers - Trae's interception, Tony Bridges' interception and C.J. Johnson's pick.

"We do a good job of disguising things and our coaches do a great job of putting us in position to make plays," Elston continued. "We have a great scheme, we communicate well and we all want the ball. Our goal coming into the year was 42 turnovers. I think we are still on pace. . . . "

As all Rebels are aware, Trae moved from Rover (strong safety) to free safety this year after long-time running mate Cody Prewitt's graduation left the FS slot open. Trae has made the most of it.

"Coach (Dave) Wommack says there are no more opportunities for the ball at free safety," Elston laughed," but I think there are. At Rover, I was in man coverage a lot or in run support. At free, I am in zone a lot and can follow the action more.

"I have been able to take advantage of that latitude so far."

Trae dislocated his finger late in the Alabama game and left the game for one play.

"Looking down at it startled me. I came off the field, my trainer put the finger back in place and I went back in. I think I played 100 plays in that game," he said proudly.

So how was it?

"We can do a lot better. I kind of figured we would miss some tackles because Derrick Henry is a different level of back than we have faced this year, but I didn't think we'd miss 22 tackles - that's too many," he noted. "We also had some alignment and assignment issues. There are a lot of things we can clean up, but we will get that done."

Trae has a lot more football to play as a Rebel, but the majority of his career is over.

"It's gone so fast. I have loved every second of it, but we have a lot more to accomplish. The guys who came here early with Coach (Hugh) Freeze knew it was a building process. I think we've done pretty well so far, but we've got a lot more to prove," he closed. "We don't want to stop with beating Bama twice in a row and that being our legacy.

"We want it all."


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