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July 20, 2012As the days without football linger on, RebelGrove.com will break down Ole Miss' 15 most important players heading into 2012. A new spot will be revealed each weekday leading up to the first practice.
At times, we'll cheat and combine a couple names into one spot, but it's our list, so we'll do what we want. The list focuses just on the upcoming season - not future career performance.
We continue the countdown with a senior that will likely be in charge of the opponent's top receiver.
Name: Wesley Pendleton
Hometown: Natchez, Miss.
Career Stats: 12 games, 19 tackles, four passes defended
2011 Stats: 12 games, 19 tackles, four passes defended
Ole Miss allowed 194 yards per game through the air last season, good for ninth in the Southeastern Conference. After a big spring, Wesley Pendleton will be counted on to improve the Rebels' stats against the pass. The Co-Lin Community College product retained his starting position at field cornerback and leads a thin unit heading into fall camp.
Pendleton features blazing speed and can easily run with the SEC's top wide receivers. He gained ample playing time last season and will be a key defender for the Rebels this season. He has all the tools to be a marquee cornerback in the league and emerged as a leader during spring practice. With Charles Sawyer playing cover safety, Pendleton will match up with the outside receiver and also provide field-side run support.
Pendleton signed with Ole Miss in December 2010 out of Co-Lin Community College in Wesson, Miss. The three-star prospect chose the Rebels over Louisiana Tech and Ohio. Utah also showed major interest, but Ole Miss quickly became the prohibitive favorite once it offered. With the Wolves, Pendleton was named First Team All-State and the MACJC Defensive Back of the Year. He also received NJCAA All-Region honors.
Pendleton played in all 12 games in 2011 with 10 starts. He made 19 tackles and broke up four passes during the season. He earned the Jeff Hamm Memorial Award during the Grove Bowl, awarded to the best defensive player during practice. Pendleton made a considerable jump in his game and quickly gained the confidence of the new coaching staff.
Pendleton gets a spot in our countdown because of his play and ability to be on an island in the SEC, but he's also the top performer at one of Ole Miss' thinnest positions. Sawyer could always move back to corner, but the best defensive group is with him at safety. Dehendret Collins, who transferred in prior to spring practice, seems to be a quick study, but the depth chart is sparse past the starters.
Pendleton's back-up is 5-foot-8 walk-on Abdul Bangura, while Collins' understudy is Cliff Coleman, who played in 10 games and had one pass break-up last season. The wildcard in the group is Senquez Golson, who showed ability as a freshman but missed spring practice due to baseball obligations and academic struggles. An available Golson would drastically help the talented but thin group.
In short, Pendleton needs to stay healthy and also continue his progression. His ability allows Ole Miss to get its best secondary on the field in the proper places.
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