Spring look ahead: Safeties

This position more than any others was where the youth of the Ole Miss defense showed up.

I thought Hugh Freeze and his staff got a lot of production from their first recruting class, the one that was put together on the fly and didn’t sniff the top 10.

Still that class produced starters in Trae Elston and Mike Hilton, and another freshman, Quintavius Burdette, who got some key snaps as well.

Burdette could slide over and help with depth at corner, but by and large, there’s usuall more opportunities for safeties in a 4-2-5.

Among the freshmen, Elston led the way with 61 tackles and was second on the team in pass break-ups with six.

Sophomore Cody Prewitt wasn’t a member of that recruiting class, but was a big playmaker in 2012, second to Denzel Nkemdiche with 80 tackles, five tackles for loss, two fumbles forced and two recovered. Prewitt was usually around the ball, but more of his big plays came earlier in the season.

Chief Brown did some nice things in a reserve role behind Prewitt.

I forgot to mention Dehendret Collins yesterday with the corners. He was back with the corners at the end of the year, listed second on the depth chart behind Charles Sawyer at the boundary corner. He also spent some time with the safeties and had 30 tackles. Collins was one of three players with a team-leading three interceptions, but he also spent a little time in the dog house. Anyway, such versatility is always welcome.

By way of labels, Prewitt is the free safety, Elston the rover and Hilton the dime.

All these guys will get plenty of snaps in the spring, but there’s a lot of expectation for incoming freshman Antonio Conner. He is fast and aggressive, and the thought is he’ll play closer to the line of scrimmage.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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