Cornerbacks -

Last season, the Rebel cornerbacks were "raw" for most of the year. They started coming on at the end of the season and carried that experience factor over into spring training. The following is Part IX of an 11-part series discussing spring training with the assistant coaches. Today, the cornerbacks.

Coaches talk about it all the time – experience and the difference it makes in the performance of a player from one year to the next.

Case in point: The Ole Miss cornerbacks. A little maligned, at times, last season, the Rebel corners have – overall – emerged this spring as one of the solid groups on the team.

"The guys are really understanding the position a lot more than they did a year ago and it shows," said Cornerbacks Coach Chris Vaughn. "A year ago, we were just looking for a base and starting from the ground floor. ‘This is cover three. . . This is man.' That type of stuff. Now they have gotten that part down, we are graduating to understanding the position more. They aren't as robotic and are playing more instinctively. A year's experience and understanding will allow them to make more plays than they did a year ago if their hard work carries over into the season, which I see no reason it won't.

"They've given me everything I've asked of them in spring and that effort will carry them a long way toward advancing even further in their development."

At the boundary corner, senior Cassius Vaughn returns as the starter.

"Cassius has had a good spring. My challenge to him prior to spring was to play 100% every play. Not 80%, not 90%. Every play," Chris assessed. "Don't relax. He's got great ability, but at times he would let off the accelerator thinking the play was going the other way and they would throw his way. He learned that lesson the hard way and had a good spring."

Converted RB Jeremy McGee is next in line and has shown Vaughn some of the right stuff.

"Jeremy has always been very competitive. He just had to learn the position and keep learning his craft," Vaughn noted. "He got in great shape during the offseason and that has helped. Coupled with his natural competitive attitude and personality, and some experience, and he's doing some good things this spring."

Redshirt junior Demareo Marr is holding down the third spot. Walkon Zane Allcorn is working hard to leave an impression as well.

"He's still trying to learn the game fundamentally. He needs to have a big offseason this summer to be able to help us and maybe he can get in on some special teams while he's learning," Vaughn noted. "Zane is smart and knows what to do, but he's not quite as athletic as the other three at this point. He just needs to continue working on getting faster and stronger."

At the field corner, senior Marshay Green, who was somewhat thrown into the fire last year after converting from wide receiver two springs ago, has emerged as one of the leaders of the defense.

"Again, his understanding of the position has helped him blossom. He's more disciplined now and he's learned what he can and can't do. He has a natural savvy about him. It's like playing cards – he knows when to hold them and when to fold them," Chris continued. "His confidence and his experience go hand-in-hand. He's more relaxed and the result is he's better."

Last season, true freshman Marcus Temple burst on the scene as a pleasant surprise as the nickel back. This spring, he's developed his corner skills more and may have a bigger role in 2009.

"Marcus has had a real good spring," Vaughn said. "The experience he got last year gave him confidence and paid off for his future. He had a great offseason – setting a power clean lift for corners. He's done very well and I'm excited about his continued development. It's easy to forget sometimes that he has not been here a full calendar year yet. He's got a lot of upside."

Note: Temple dislocated his shoulder late in spring. It will not require surgery, but he will most likely not play in the Grove Bowl.

Redshirt frosh Julian Whitehead is also in the picture. RS freshman Kyle Horine has also thrown his hat in the ring.

"Julian tied Marcus in the power clean. He's done some good things, but he needs to keep working on his speed and his corner skills. There will be a role for him on special teams, I believe," Vaughn said. "Kyle is a good player for us. He's not as fast as the others, but he can work on that in the summer and see where that takes him."

Overview: Last spring, the corners did not make a lot of plays against the Rebel wideouts. This spring, not a practice went by when they didn't make several. Green, Temple and McGee have reached a higher comfort level and the end result is they are better, maybe even much better. Vaughn's every-play focus has increased and so has his playmaking ability as a consequence. Coach Vaughn is to be commended. He weathered the storm of inexperience and now has a much better group to work with.


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