Defensive Backs: C+
This is the position that is hard to grade because you could see a few of the players who were recruited for safety, end up at linebacker on the next level. Those players include Jabarre Mitchell and Michael Hicks. Both have the frame to end up at linebacker if needed.
Cornerback could possibly be the deepest
and most talented position on the current squad with true freshmen Terrell Jackson
and Dustin Mouzon, redshirt freshman Nate Banks, true sophomore Trumaine McBride,
and redshirt juniors Bryant Thomas and Travis Johnson.
It was not a must that they signed two studs at the corner but it was their goal. They met one of their goals with the signature of Gary Albury but missed on their other top two priorities, Derek Pegues and Anthony Johnson. Both were instate prospects and one was in their backyard, South Panola.
Gary Albury has very good size for a CB. He stands at 6' 0" feet and is very fluid and physical. He reminds some of a young Travis Johnson.
The Rebels lost Eric Oliver, Tavarus Horn, and Iroke Ayodele to graduation. Danny Bell was dismissed from the team and starting strong safety Kelvin Robinson is expected to move down to linebacker in the Spring. This
This leaves Bryan Brown, Keith Houston, Edwin Gelin, Charles Clark, and Kareem Moore as the returning safeties. The good news is that there will be one less safety used in the new 4-3 scheme, but the bad news is that Charles Clark and Bryan Brown are the only proven returnees at the safety positions.
Hey, speed kills, as they always say. Well, judging by last year's defense, the speed was not exactly there for the safety slots. Help is on the way with the signees of Gary Riggs and Tyson Andrus. There are not too many safeties that will outrun Gary and Tyson. Look for Ole Miss' pass coverage to improve immediately once they adjust to the next level.
The key for this year's secondary class will be where will the four high school safety signees end up? If they all stay at safety, the Rebels will be pretty well stocked for the future, if some move down to LB, then they will have to add a few more pieces to the puzzle in next year's secondary class.
Quotes from Bill Gierke
"Gary runs a true 4.5 forty and has run in the 4.4s. He has the ability to move and turn his hips. He had 9 interceptions as a junior and 8 interceptions as a senior. He was a three year starter for a program that made it to the state championship game for three straight years," said Edgewater Coach Bill Gierke. "He is about 6-0, 175 and has never been hurt. Ole Miss is going to get him up there as soon as possible. The kids in high school at cornerback do not understand the pace of college ball. We played a lot of man on man coverages, so that should help him. I think his skill level will help him adjust. He has tremendous hip movement and that is what makes him so special. He is a team player, and he does not mind making the sacrifices for the team, which is unusual in today's world. We had nine players sign D1 scholarships off of our team, and he is probably more skilled than any of them. I have known Coach Orgeron since he was an assistant at Miami. I sent him Warren Sapp and several other big time players. I know Ed well, and no one is going to outwork him. He got himself an impact player with Gary."
Quotes from Ed Orgeron
"Coach (Matt) Lubick did an excellent job in Florida in a short period of time for us and Gary is an example of that. We needed some speed in the secondary and Gary Albury is someone who helps provide that. He played for an excellent high school program and excellent coaches and has good skills already."
Quotes from Vincent Deroben
"Tyson was a two-way player for us who excelled on both sides of the ball. He's a quality kid who takes care of his business. His strength is his speed and flexibility. He's not only fast, but he's an outstanding athlete to go along with his speed," said Northside Coach Vincent Deroben. "Ole Miss will like the options they will have with him due to his versatility."
from Ed Orgeron
"There is a chance Tyson could be a big cornerback,
but most likely he will surface at one of the safety slots. We like his athleticism
and feel he has the skills to do a lot of things for us. He's got work to do -
as they all do - but we gave him a good evaluation and think his potential is
Hicks (S, Jacksonville, FL) - Considered one of top athletes in
Northeast Florida ... Selected to SuperPrep Dixie Team ... Member of Florida Times-Union
Super 24 team who earned All-District and All-FACA District honors ... Rated No.
88 overall player in the state of Florida by the Orlando Sentinel ... All-Gatewood
Conference selection ... Was Andrew Jackson's Most Valuable Player as well as
Most Outstanding Back ... High School Heisman nominee ... Helped lead team to
district championship in 2001 and 2004 ... As a senior, passed for more than 1,200
yards, connecting for 15 TDs, and rushed for over 300 yards, scoring six by land
... Was credited with 50 tackles and four pass interceptions, returning one pick
for a TD ... Completed 58 percent of his passes for over 2,600 yards and connected
for 24 TDs during his career at Andrew Jackson ... Earned four letters in football
... Coached in high school by Kevin Sullivan ... Also picked up four letters in
basketball and two in baseball ... Averaged 15 points and eight rebounds in basketball
as team won 2002 district championship ... Was All-District and All-Gateway Conference
in basketball ... Was Scholar Athlete of the Year at Andrew Jackson High ... PERSONAL:
Son of Claretha Hicks ... Full name is Michael Bernard Hicks ... Born: December
Quotes from Kevin Sullivan
"Michael plays smarter than any player I have had. He is just so intelligent and understands the game. Over the time frame he was playing QB for us, which was 16 games, he won 12 out of the 16," said Andrew Jackson Coach Kevin Sullivan. "Look, our school has never even made it to the third round of the playoffs, and we have been around since 1928, and he took us there. Hicks is just a natural leader. I would compare his leadership skills to Leron Washington, who is the starting running back for Florida State. Both of those kids were the best leaders that have passed through this school. He has tremendous character and is a hard worker. In the 'me' world of today, you just do not see many kids like Michael anymore. I think he was also the most underrated athlete in the state of Florida. I really do. Ole Miss is getting a heck of an athlete and a natural born leader. They got themselves a keeper."
Quotes from Ed Orgeron
"Michael Hicks (Jacksonville, Fla.) is a guy who has played quarterback and safety. He can play anywhere on the field for us. We will have to see how he physically matures, but he may end up at linebacker once he's in a year-round weight program and is concentrating on one sport."
Mitchell (S, New Orleans, LA - Selected to Louisiana Sports Writers
Association All-State selection who rated All-Metro Most Valuable Player by The
New Orleans Times-Picayune ... All-District MVP, and West Bank MVP ...
Was named "Best of Rest" on Top 20 team by Times-Picayune ...
As a senior, had 83 tackles, including nine QB sacks, while also having two pass
interceptions, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, seven pass deflections,
and five blocked kicks ... Helped lead team to district championship ... Earned
four letters in football ... Coached in high school by Billy North ... Also lettered
four times in track ... PERSONAL: Son of Carolyn Mitchell and Osborne Washington
... Full name is Jabarre Osbon Mitchell ... Born: December 10, 1985.
Quotes from Billy North
"As a coach, you love kids who work hard. Jabarre treats practices like a game and never misses one. Heck, I've probably missed more practices in his career than he has," laughed John Ehret Coach Billy North. "Jabarre started here as a wide receiver, but we needed help at safety his senior year so we moved him. In our defensive scheme, the safeties are our best athletes. They are asked to blitz, cover, run support, stunt - everything. He was a great one for us and was named AAAAA New Orleans Metro Defensive Player of the Year. What separates Jabarre are two things - speed and he's a big-time hitter. He can really run - he's fast and quick. He likes to get after it on the football field and was our defensive leader, without question. I really believe he plays with the same kind of enthusiasm that Coach O coaches with. They will get along great - that's a good fit. I can see him gaining at least 15 pounds before next fall and fitting right in. Once he adjusts to the college game and learns Ole Miss' schemes, I believe his future will be very bright. This is a kid who could be 215 to 220 pounds by the end of his career.
Quotes from Ed Orgeron
"Jabarre is an exciting player with a great love of the game and great enthusiasm. I don't know where he'll end up in his career at Ole Miss, but I predict he will be on the field somewhere. He could even grow into a linebacker. He's physical enough to handle it."
Riggs (S, Jennings, LA) - All-State selection by
the Louisiana Sports Writers Association who also picked up All-District
and All-Southwest honors ... Rated as the No. 16 overall player in Louisiana by
SuperPrep ... Named to Top 20 team by New Orleans Times-Picayune and to
Top 24 team by the Baton Rouge Advocate ... Ranked as the No. 5 player
in Louisiana by Dandy Don ... Ranked No. 93 on Mobile Register Super Southeast
120 list ... Was selected to participate in U.S. Army All-America Bowl in
San Antonio, Texas, but chose not to participate ... As a senior, rushed for 1,489
yards and 12 touchdowns, and passed for 526 yards and 10 touchdowns ... Had nine
career pass interceptions ... Earned three letters in football as a quarterback-defensive
back ... Coached in high school by Rusty Phelps ... Also earned three letters
in basketball and four in track ... Averaged 13.8 points in basketball ... Won
district titles in long jump and triple jump in track, while also being a member
of the 4x100 and 4x200 district champs ... Rated All-District honors in track
... PERSONAL: Son of Gary Riggs Sr. and Roanne Riggs ... Full name is Gary
Lemon Riggs ... Born: December 18, 1986.
Quotes from Rusty Phelps
"Gary is a tremendous athlete who I knew as far back as ninth grade would be a special player for us," said Jennings Coach Rusty Phelps. "He played for us as a freshman, and in 11 years as head coach, I've only had one or two freshmen play. He had been such a great player on defense for us, and this year we really needed him at quarterback. He came in and had a great year for us there along with playing some safety for us as well. Some of the things he did this year, especially at quarterback, you'd have to see tape to believe it. Ole Miss was in it from the start, both with the old staff and the new staff. Ole Miss was the first school to offer him. He's very excited to be going to Ole Miss."
from Ed Orgeron
"Gary is one of those kids we signed because of his athleticism. He has good height and range. We believe he has growth potential. We're not sure where he'll end up, but with his athletic ability, he's got a chance to be a good one on the college level no matter what position he plays."