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Myles Hartsfield is headed to the Tar Heel State, signs with Carolina Panthers

Matt Rhule’s defensive rebuild gets a “Swiss-Army Knife”.

Mississippi v Memphis Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Myles Hartsfield, former defensive back at Ole Miss, will be joining first-year head coach Matt Rhule and the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent.

As a four-star recruit out of high school, Hartsfield came to Oxford as a safety. He got off to a hot start as a Rebel and started every game in the defensive backfield as a freshman, earning Freshman All-SEC honors from Athlon and Gridiron Now. He played 11 games at the “rover” spot, which primarily revolves around stopping the opposition’s best player, and one game at “husky,” which is part safety, part corner back and part linebacker. Hartsfield ranked fourth among SEC freshmen with 3.6 tackles/game and fifth on team with 43 total tackles as a freshman.

The New Jersey native appeared in all 48 games over his four-year career and recorded 167 total tackles, 122 of which were solo. Hartsfield was consistent statistically and recorded 43, 42, 41 and 41 total tackles each season. When defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre installed a 3-4 defensive system in 2019, Hartsfield was moved to a nickel corner position.

“Just trying to stay consistent and work hard through this entire process.”

What does he do well?

Physically, Hartsfield stands 5-foot-11, 211 pounds and has recorded a 39-inch vertical jump and a 132-inch broad jump. He brings it not only with 4.4 forty-yard dash speed but on the weight rack, capable of squatting 524 pounds and cleaning 335 pounds.

Over the course of his four years, Hartsfield was a swiss-army knife. He played every position in the defensive backfield from linebacker to corner back, to strong safety. When he was moved into the nickel spot as a senior, there were multiple instances where he got flatfooted and let a receiver get overtop him, or lost track of the ball.

However, his physicality in space is unmatched. He hits hard, runs fast, jumps high and will play through the whistle. If you match him up one-on-one with a team’s best receiver, he can keep with him step-for-step, and when a tight end runs a crossing route over the middle, Hartsfield stands his ground and doesn’t get bullied by bigger bodies.

Where does he fit in?

The Panther are moving into a new era under first-year head coach Matt Rhule. As the staff takes over, the team is beginning a complete overhaul, especially on defense. Rhule has a vision of what type of player he wants and represented that notion by using all seven draft picks on the defensive side of the ball with hard-nosed, physical athletes like Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, Penn State edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos and West Virgina safety Kenny Robinson. Hartsfield appears to fall in that category of playmaker.

While his technical skills need work, you can’t teach size or athleticism. As a defensive back that could play all over the field, Rhule and company must be excited for the versatility and energy Hartsfield brings to the Panthers.

Hear from the experts:

The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman:

“Hartsfield has been steady as a metronome at Ole Miss.”