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S Trae Elston is a player with loads of talent.
Wait, who's playing where in the secondary?
That was a common question from the stands last fall in Oxford, but one that should hopefully be far less confusing come August 29 when Ole Miss takes on Vanderbilt. The only player lost to graduation is Wesley Pendleton, and there is a lot of talent on deck.
Cornerbacks coach Wesley McGriff recently left for the New Orleans Saints, and Oklahoma State's Jason Jones has been hired to assume his duties in Oxford. A former safety at Alabama himself, Jones knows what it takes to be a successful unit in the SEC.
At cornerback, starters Senquez Golson and Charles Sawyer return. Behind those two are a host of players with reserve experience: Cliff Coleman, Dehendret Collins, Louis Covington and Anthony Sandifer. New competition this spring will be junior college athlete and early enrollee Quadarias Mireles. He's a dynamic player that can fit in at various spots, but his first audition as a Rebel will be at cornerback.
Let's not forget one Nick Brassell, either. Returning to Oxford after being an academic casualty, the young man has a lot of work ahead of him. This spring and summer, he'll have to work hard to become academically eligible before the fall. He's on a short leash with Hugh Freeze, but nonetheless he's being given a second chance. What else can he ask for?
Brassell is a player with NFL written all over him. He knows it, Hugh Freeze knows it, as does anyone familiar with his talents. If he can become eligible, he's the clear choice to line up opposite Sawyer at cornerback. However, it's a story still to be written.
Moving to safety, starting free safety Cody Prewitt and rover Trae Elston are back as two of the hardest-hitting players in the SEC. The underclassmen saw success last season and their stock should rise even higher in more permanent positions moving forward. Additionally, Quintavius Burdette will likely get looks at rover behind Elston.
Seeing somewhat limited time in 2012, Chief Brown, Frank Crawford and Brishen Matthews return this spring as reserves. It's great to have players like Prewitt and Elston in the starting lineup, but again building depth will be fundamental for long-term success.
Mark it down right now, this unit may end up being one of the best in the SEC this year.