Sawyer: Something Special?

With his signature red bandanna and dreadlocks, redshirt freshman Cornerback Charles Sawyer's determination and a gifted skill set have set him up for playing time at an early age, but, out of necessity, he has to grow up quickly. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss redshirt freshman Cornerback Charles Sawyer has a maturity about football beyond his years.

He's usually one of the first to hit the field for practice and one of the last to leave.

He works hard, is attentive and is determined to be an outstanding collegiate football player.

Sawyer's abilities draw praise from every corner of the Ole Miss football program.

But he's in a tough position, as Ole Miss Cornerbacks Coach Chris Vaughn attests.

Charles, you see, has not choice in the matter. As the third corner in the Rebel CB rotation, Sawyer is compelled - by himself and his coach - to excel.

"Charles has a chance to be really good. He has a great skill set. What is happening now is that we are trying to teach him how to play all the time," Vaughn began.

Chris Vaughn

"I challenge him to have a great sense of urgency all the time. In high school, you are usually the best player on the field and can get away with 75% most of the time. Can't do that in college.

"Every snap they are coming at you, especially when they know you are a freshman out there."

So, we have already presented a contradiction. On one hand, Sawyer is driven, but to his coach, he's got to give more.

Vaughn explains his stance.

"For his age, he's ahead of the curve in the effort he gives, but my expectation of where he needs to be is very high," Vaughn said. "He wants that level of expectation there, so he works hard. He's doing a good job, but I'm going to keep dangling that carrot in front of him for him to do better.

"I'm going to challenge him. He's got to play next year and that means I'm accelerating my level of expectations for him. We have a high level of expectations for our secondary and we will not fall back on 'well, we have a freshman there right now.' It doesn't work that way. We're not going to be different out there until he gets older. Consequently, we're going to push him."

Even though he wants and demands more from Charles, Chris is not surprised with Sawyer's advancement as a player.

"I've never had a tardiness or missed class or one complaint about anything with Charles. When your life is in order off the field, and you are a great student in the classroom, it usually translates into being a great student in football," Vaughn noted.

What that all boils down to Sawyer is a star in the making, and the price of that level of play is constant pushing and never being totally satisfied.

Sawyer gets it.

"The team is depending on me and I can't let the defense down," Sawyer said. "I have tried to maintain my focus and intensity because to get where I am now, I had to do that.

Charles Sawyer

"My redshirt year was good for me. I'm glad I did it. My thanks go out to Cassius Vaughn and Marshay Green. I watched how they did it and that helped me focus on the game."

Sawyer has the physical goods, but he's in a constant state of pushing the envelope of improvement.

"It's all about technique," he said. "I want to get my technique right and learn the game better. That's half the battle. Once you have those two things, all you have to do is play hard. The rest takes care of itself."

Hand-in-hand with that is the ability to play faster. Having good technique and having an intimate knowledge with the schemes and assignments equals faster reaction time and faster play. Common sense.

"I'm not thinking nearly as much now. I'm really just going out there and playing and it's starting to be more and more fun. I'm just playing the game I love," said Charles.

The next goal is simple. Sawyer wants to stay on his current path and get better and better and better, gaining his teammates respect along the way.

"As a young player, a lot of what I'm trying to do is earn the respect of my teammates," he closed. "You want to see what you can do, and at the same time you don't want to let them down.

"The whole thing is just a challenge and I like challenges. Some will say the weak link in the defense are the corners. We accept that challenge."

Charles Sawyer, a redshirt freshman in eligibility, but much older in many, many ways.

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