Cornerback has almost certainly been the weakest position group at Ole Miss over the last decade or so; it seems like the Rebels somewhat frequently field a salty front seven, only to be nullified by a lack of competence in the secondary. While some of these issues can be attributed to coaching and fundamentals, most of them can be chalked up to poor recruiting, both in quality and quantity. While Hugh Freeze certainly "gets" recruiting, in two (well, one and a half) classes, perhaps his biggest shortcoming has been his failure to land a sure-thing prospect at cornerback. Below, we'll take a look at the cornerback situation, and how the depth chart might pan out.
In 2012, already working with a less-than-ideal depth situation at corner, the Rebels' three best corners (Charles Sawyer, Senquez Golson, and Wesley Pendelton) all missed games due to injury. While those three (plus Dehendret Collins) would have been a satisfactory unit, having to sub in or even start guys like Louis Covington, Anthony Standifer, and Cliff Coleman exposed a dire lack of depth at the position. A position where the top of the depth chart simply couldn't get banged up was riddled with injuries towards the end of the season.
Cornerbacks did generate 7 Interceptions (3 each from Golson and Collins, 1 from Sawyer), and about 25 broken-up passes.
There are at least two huge wildcards when it comes to cornerback play this year. First, if Nick Brassell can pull off a miracle worthy of beatification and get himself eligible, then we're having a completely different conversation. His presence could be a huge boon for the secondary. Second, the change in technique from one secondary coach to the next has often been quite noticeable at Ole Miss. Though Wesley McGriff's toughness and recruiting prowess will be missed, it is certainly possible for Jason Jones to improve cornerback play from a technique standpoint.
If Sawyer, Golson, and Collins can all stay healthy, then the cornerback position could easily be an improvement from last year. From there, only one or two backups would need to step up and provide dependable snaps. Converted safety Q Burdette and special teams standout Carlos Davis (suspended 6 games for rather silly reasons) could provide some physicality there, while redshirt junior Cliff Coleman might bring some maturity and consistency. True sophomore Anthony Standifer is still a relative unknown, as are incoming freshmen Bobby Hill and David Kamara.