Dustin Mouzon -

Mired in a self-described slump through much of spring practice, Dustin Mouzon rebounded late and seized some momentum before the summer began. After a few weeks back home in Orlando, Fla., the experienced corner is ready for camp.

And Ready to compete for playing time at a deep position.

Mouzon started 11 games at left cornerback in 2007 and was undoubtedly the most seasoned player at cornerback returning in 2008, his senior season. But thanks to the slump and a move from the left side to the right side, the three-year letterwinner enters the preseason in a dead heat with Cassius Vaughn for the starting spot.

Best friends, Vaughn and Mouzon have to compartmentalize competing on the field and keeping their close relationship the same off of it.

"It is weird because the two of us are the best of buds," Mouzon said of the position battle. "We know we are competing for a job, and we seem to be feeling each other out. It is strange to have to go at each other's head on the field. We talk about it all the time.

"He motivates me more than anyone. The situation is complicated, but we are teammates and want nothing but the best for one another. Someone will start, and the other will be ready to strap it on when called."

The cornerback position was extremely thin before the new coaching staff moved players around and established depth. Marshay Green switched from wide receiver, and Jeremy McGee moved from running back. Green has caught on quickly and is projected as the starter on the left side.

Marshay picked it up fast and has tons of intensity," Mouzon said. "He should know everything going into camp because the summer is a chance to catch up and make sure it is all down. It is going to be great. He can play.

"Coming into the spring, the team was inexperienced at corner, but we converted some guys and now it looks good. We have almost four strings now. It feels good to have the depth. We can fill out the depth chart and have quality guys in the nickel package."

Mouzon credits the coaching staff with the position changes but also for establishing a positive atmosphere inside the indoor practice facility. The staff checked on Mouzon while he was in Florida, and the players are responding to the attention by developing more team unity.

"Coach Vaughn is a down to Earth guy that is always checking on you to make sure everything is well," Mouzon said. "He is always around and wants us around the IPF more often.

"He doesn't want it to be a negative place. We didn't like coming around with Coach O. We want to be around this group. The whole coaching staff is like that. You get a feel of camaraderie, and they are with us all the way."

However, the staff is of course interested in more than harmony and accord. Turnovers and stopping the big play are the goals for the cornerbacks. Ole Miss has struggled with interceptions for several seasons, and Houston Nutt's coaches are hard at work on improving technique and teaching how to go after the ball.

"Coach Vaughn is all about playing the ball," Mouzon said. "I am learning new techniques, and we can adjust to the ball in this defense. In the previous defense, I didn't look back like I was supposed to, like they wanted me to. But Coach (Vaughn) has shown new things. We are really getting in-depth.

"I was always taught to play the hands instead of the ball, and that is probably the reason for my slump. Changing to this new way, a better way, has been tough at times, but it is exciting. We all know Coach Vaughn, Coach (Tyrone) Nix and Coach Nutt are just making us better."

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