Ole Miss must replace a major contributor in Senquez Golson but could be poised to do so with near-equal production.
I say near because it’s a stretch to predict 10 interceptions for one player. Golson got on a roll last year, but 10 interceptions certainly wasn’t predicted for him at the outset when he’d had only six over his previous three seasons.
In fact, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze did not consider Golson his best corner last August. When Tee Shepard went down for the season to torn ligaments in a toe Freeze said he’d lost what he believed to be his best cover corner.
Now Shepard is back, and it’s possible he doesn’t win a starting job.
The Rebels added Tony Bridges in the December signing period, the consensus top-rated junior college cornerback.
Shepard was rated a five-star prospect and the No. 39 player in the country when he signed with Notre Dame. He eventually left the Iris and enrolled at Hinds CC.
Both players are bigger corners, Shepard listed at 6-1, Bridges at 6-2.
The Rebels also return the versatile Mike Hilton who goes into his senior season having started at every position in the secondary. Ten of those starts last year were at corner.
Those guys figure to be the top three in a rotation. That’s if Hilton stays at corner, and there’s no guarantee that will happen.
There are a lot of pieces to work with for defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, and it’s not a stretch to think Hilton could slide over to free safety is Wommack is not pleased with the progress in the competition to replace Cody Prewitt at free safety.
In addition to Shepard and Bridges at corner there’s rising sophomore Kendarius Webster, who appeared in all 13 games last year and had 22 tackles with two pass break-ups.
Shepard and Bridges have a little age on Webster, but he has game experience at Ole Miss which they do not.
The Rebels have speed among their depth with Carlos Davis and Kailo Moore, both converted running backs.
The incoming freshmen include Cameron Ordway and Montrell Custis, both rated four stars by various services. Custis, a former Alabama commit, could also play safety.