Ole Miss has options at cornerback
Published 6:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2017
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth of a 10-part series breaking down each position on Ole Miss’ football team entering fall camp. A different position will be featured each day leading up to the Rebels’ first day of practice on Aug. 2.
A cornerback position that was thin on bodies at the end of last season has replenished itself for Ole Miss heading into this season.
Tony Bridges and Derrick Jones are the only significant contributors Ole Miss lost there after last season, and some more additions have given the Rebels plenty of options at the position. The Rebels will begin preseason camp three-deep at the boundary and field spots as well as at nickel corner when Ole Miss decides to put a fifth defensive back on the field, though staying healthy will be key to keeping the numbers strong.
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Junior Ken Webster, the Rebels’ best cover corner when healthy, is making progress almost a year removed from a severe season-ending knee injury suffered in last year’s season opener. The 5-foot-11, 194-pounder has been cleared for full contact and will wear a brace for the time being.
Webster is listed as a co-starter at one corner spot with Jaylon Jones, who will try to build on a strong freshman season. Jones played in all 12 games with one start and finished with 26 tackles and five pass breakups. Sophomore Jalen Julius, who started eight games a season ago, is back in the mix after missing part of the spring with a fractured arm.
Entering the fall as the starter on the opposite side is sophomore Myles Hartsfield, who moved over in the spring after starting every game last season at safety. Coaches like his size (5-11, 199 pounds) and physicality with the Rebels wanting to be more aggressive in their coverage under first-year defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff, who’s emphasizing the reduction of explosive plays allowed in the passing game after the Rebels surrendered nearly 13 yards per completion last season.
Senior A.J. Moore will start at the top of the depth chart at nickel corner after recording 42 tackles and five tackles for loss a season ago. Junior Cam Ordway will provide depth as will sophomore Montrell Custis, who could play the nickel or slide outside.
Junior college transfer Javien Hamilton will spell Hartsfield at times, but the biggest impact by an newcomer may come from freshman D.D. Bowie, Ole Miss’ highest-ranked signee. Bowie is on the lighter side at 170 pounds, but he’s got the range (6-1) and speed to challenge for immediate playing time.
Fellow freshman Breon Dixon went through the spring as an early enrollee and has the versatility to line up at nickel or safety.