Good news for an Ole Miss secondary that was regularly abused in 2015: four-star defensive back Jaylon Jones has sent his LOI into Oxford.
In 2012, Hugh Freeze signed Channing Ward, Isaac Gross, Bo Wallace, Jaylen Walton, Itavious Mathers, Pierce Burton... a modest but exciting class for a coach who'd just taken over a sinking barge of flaming garbage. As excited as fans were about these names, and as much immediate impact as guys like Walton and Wallace had... you could argue that Freeze's two best signees that year were relatively unheralded defensive backs Trae Elston and Mike Hilton. Hilton and Elston were two of the better defensive players for Ole Miss from Freeze's first game, all the way to the Sugar Bowl. Between them, they earned 82 starts and made 469 tackles. Now Freeze must replace these foundational players, and Jaylon Jones looks to be a huge part of that process.
Jones shows that he's a versatile guy who could potentially play multiple safety positions, and could even play cornerback. While there is a lot of talent in the Ole Miss secondary heading into 2016, there is also quite a bit of uncertainty. C.J. Hampton, Zedrick Woods, and Armani Linton may be among the favorites to replace Hilton and Elston, but don't think that super-talented, experienced guys like Jaylon Jones, Deontay Anderson, and Greg Eisworth are going to concede those spots. Fall camp should be an extremely interesting time for the Ole Miss secondary, and Jones should be in the thick of the conversation.
We're used to seeing highlights where the featured player just dices through an onslaught of ill-equipped tackling dummies. Jaylon's highlights, featuring the Allen Eagles against other elite Texan teams, have the look of a mid-level G5 team. There are no tiny guys and no slow guys. This actually allows us to see some really cool stuff: Jaylon returning kickoffs for TDs against other guys who are supposed to run 4.4's; defending a well-thrown slant route against a receiver who is probably quite good; switching fluidly from one receiver to the next as they enter and leave his assigned zone; and laying some great form tackles on guys who can certainly break them.