Ole Miss Cornerbacks Coach Chris Vaughn is as cordial and accommodating as any coach anywhere, but right now, in the heat of August practice and with several of his players in the developmental stage, you can tell improvement is heavy on his mind.
"We are a work in progress," said Vaughn, whose wheels seem to spin constantly. "We've got a lot of work to do this preseason. Part of it is because a couple of my guys have never played a lot of defense and it's all brand new to them."
The ones he's referring to are known by all who keep up with Rebel football - converted WR Marshay Green and converted RB Jeremy McGee, both in the top-two rotation at cornerback despite their lack of experience at the position.
"The good thing is they have good skills and ability," Chris continued. "Also, they are both very willing and hard workers. One of the reasons we moved both of them is that they are both great competitors who play hard.
"Marshay has an energy about him that is infectious - he energizes everyone in our group. Jeremy is the same way. The number one thing at that position, besides the obvious skills necessary, is having guys who like to compete and are energetic about it. If you don't have comeptitiveness and toughness, it really doesn't matter how fast and quick you are."
The "other two" in the current four-man mix are senior Dustin Mouzon, a starter last year, and junior Cassius Vaughn.
"Dustin has had a good start to fall camp, much better than in spring when he was trying to figure the new staff and techniques out. Cassius is a bigger guy than the other three and also competes hard," Vaughn allowed. "All four have work to do and they realize that."
Vaughn started fall camp with four newcomers - Brandon Sanders, Marcus Temple, Demareo Marr and Derrick Herman - at corner, but Sanders has already been moved to one of the safety slots.
"Demareo Marr can really run, but we are running more man coverage than he is used to and he's having to adjust to some things right now," Chris assessed. "I think he will be fine. He has some skills, is tall and he's willing. We like his size.
"Derrick is a young kid with good skills. Again, the game is moving fast for him right now. In high school, you can look at the QB and the WR and still be OK, but on this level, you better keep your eyes on the receiver or those great athletes will leave you in the dust. It's just little things like that he has to adjust to and he'll be fine. Derrick is also taller than three of our main guys - he's 5-11 - and he's put together well, and that is the size we are looking for in the long run.
"Marcus is also a freshman who has shown me some good things. Time will tell if he gets in the mix or not, just as it will with all the younger guys."
Already, just three days into camp, the competition between Green adn Mouzon has heated up. For two days, Green was at number one. Yesterday, it was Mouzon's turn.
How will it turn out? Nobody knows - not even Vaughn. As he said, it's a work in progress.
Vaughn likes CB approach
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