Errant passes will gobbled up with enthusiasm in Oxford this season with the amount of talent and experience returning to the field. A year after allowing only 215 yards per game and 10 touchdowns through the air, the Rebel secondary is poised to improve on those numbers and make a run to Atlanta. It has been over 10 years since Ole Miss has been in such a strong position and the words “dark horse” and “sleeping giant” have been attributed to Hugh Freeze‘s squad.
The headliner is safety Cody Prewitt, who led the conference in interceptions with six. Prewitt was also the team’s second leading tackler and an enforcer on running plays. He will be accompanied by hard-hitting safety Tony Conner, rover Trae Elston, cornerback Derrick Jones, cornerback Senquez Golson and cornerback Mike Hilton. Conner, Elston and Hilton were the team’s third, fourth and fifth leading tacklers in 2013 and adding their statistics to Prewitt’s yields 28 percent of the team’s total tackles and 62 percent of the team’s interceptions.
Rising senior Golson will definitely see the field as will rising sophomore Jones, who saw action in nine game last season with four starts. One of the prized recruits from the 2014 class was C.J. Hampton, a 6-foot-1, 192 pound defensive back that recorded five tackles in the spring game. Hampton could simply add depth this season, but many signs point to his playing time increasing as fall camp gets underway. Being a former Army All-American, Hampton expects to play immediately and has ample opportunity to crack the lineup.
Another exciting factor is the crop of new quarterbacks in the SEC West. Many of the Rebels’ rivals have new faces under center, including Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M. Their SEC East draw is Vanderbilt and Tennessee, two teams not expected to compete for any titles this season. In three months, the Rebels could be sitting pretty and contending for the SEC championship.
The dark horses will be galloping in Oxford and the secondary could very well be in the saddle in the end.