(Editor's note: For six years, Dave Childers
has provided a position by position analysis beginning the day after National
Signing Day. In an eight part series, he breaks down the class for
RebelSports.net. A look has been provided for quarterbacks, tight ends running
backs, wide receivers, linebackers, and the offensive line (see links below) and
today defensive backs are reviewed. The series will conclude on Monday with a
look a the defensive line.
The skinny … Houston Nutt has said he
likes to have two sets of eyes watching his secondary and that's the reason Ole
Miss has Chris Vaughn coaching cornerbacks and Kim Dameron watching over
safeties. During the coaches first two years, they enjoyed success making
the secondary effective, mostly with inherited talent from the previous staff,
while dealing with shortage of options when it came to the number of position
players on the roster. While a lot of talent is now gone that they used
over the last two years, when it comes to numbers, they'll certainly have more
options beginning this fall.
Ole Miss signed five secondary prospects in
2009 who are on the roster - Dele Junaid, Charles Sawyer, Frank Crawford, Darius Barksdale and Ryan Campbell, and a sixth (Terrell Grant) will get a
look at safety this spring. All five, except Barksdale, who never officially
enrolled until this semester due to a medical condition, will benefit from a
redshirt season. For 2010, the Rebels followed those roster additions by
adding five more prospects - junior college transfer Damien Jackson
(already enrolled) and high school prospects Brishen Mathews, Tony Grimes, Eric Mitchell, Cliff Coleman, and Cedric Smith.
From among those eleven prospects, Ole Miss
will look for three or four to contribute immediately and ease the sting of the
loss of departed cornerbacks Marshay Green and Cassius Vaughn and safety
Kendrick Lewis. However, for the redshirt freshman or true freshmen to see
the field, they'll have to beat out some upperclassmen including Jeremy McGee, Fon Ingram, Marcus Temple, Derrick Herman, Julian Whitehead and Rudy Wilson.
With both starting cornerbacks gone along with safety Kendrick Lewis, the only
returning starter is veteran Johnny Brown, an underrated hard-hitter, who should
emerge as the leader. While the loss of three starters suggests reason for
concern, McGee, Temple and Ingram have played extensively, leaving the major
challenge to identify quality depth.
The ones that got away ... Ole Miss
would have liked to have inked junior college cornerback Dequan Menzie, who
opted for Alabama close to signing day, but may have landed a sleeper to replace
him in Cedric Smith.
Overall assessment ... Ole Miss has
seriously upgraded its numbers in the secondary with the last two recruiting
class and has improved in terms of recruiting prospects to play that position
with better size and speed. The Rebels lost three key starters in the
secondary, but can still field four upperclassmen in the defensive backfield
that have significant playing time. A group of freshmen and true freshmen,
like Charles Sawyer and Brishen Mathews, may be talented enough to come in and
complete for significant playing time next fall and challenge the more
established players. One player expected to impact immediately in the fall
is junior college Damien Jackson, who will battle for Lewis' free safety
position. Also expected to be in the rotation at safety next fall is
Barksale, and any of the players from the 2009 class like Campbell and Junaid
could impact, but spring practice will be key to see which ones emerge.
Temple and McGee have the upper hand with experience at cornerback, but Sawyer
and Crawford could challenge. Based on sheer numbers, ratings and talent,
it appears the Rebels are well on the way to establishing the most talent and
depth they've had in the secondary in years, if not decades.
Cliff Coleman, DB, 5-10, 170, Lauderdale Lakes (Boyd Anderson HS), FL. Named
to the PrepStar preseason All-Region team ... Rated the No. 67
cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com ... Ranked the No. 39
player in Florida by the Miami Herald and No. 43 player in
Florida by the Orlando Sentinel ... Listed as the No. 90 CB in
the nation and the No. 96 player in Florida by Scout.com ...
Rated as the No. 43 CB in the country by ESPN.com ... Earned
third team All-Broward honors from the Miami Herald as a senior
... Participated in the Broward vs. Dade All-Star Game ... Coached in high
school by Mark James.
Tony Grimes, DB, 5-11, 160, Hollywood (Hollywood Hills HS), FL. A
SuperPrep All-Region pick and rated the No. 110 player in Florida ...
Named to the PrepStar preseason All-America team and the
SuperPrep preseason All-Region team ... Earned second team
All-Broward honors from the Miami Herald ... Rated as the No.
16 CB in the country by ESPN.com.... Ranked the No. 43 player
in Florida by the Orlando Sentinel ... Listed as the No. 25 CB
in the nation by Scout.com ... Participated in the Team USA vs.
The World All-Star Game and the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl ... Ranked the
No. 40 CB in the nation and No. 72 player in Florida by Rivals.com
... Posted 64 tackles and five INT's as a senior ... Totaled 41 tackles and five
INT's as a junior ... Coached in high school by Scott Barnwell.
Brishen Mathews, DB, 6-1, 190, Monticello (HS), AR. A SuperPrep
All-Region pick and rated the No. 3 player in Arkansas ... Selected to the
Orlando Sentinel All-Southern team ... Named to the
SuperPrep preseason All-America team and the PrepStar
preseason All-Region team ... Named first team All-State and Arkansas Mr.
Football by ArkansasVarsity.com ... Earned Southeast Arkansas
Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Pine Bluff Commercial
as a senior ... Helped lead Monticello to a state championship as a
senior and was named the game's MVP ... Named the 2009 State Farm
5A Defensive Player of the Year for Arkansas ... Ranked the No. 4 player in
Arkansas and the No. 36 safety in the country by Rivals.com ...
Listed as the No. 7 player in Arkansas and the No. 65 safety in the nation by
Scout.com ... Posted 51 tackles and two INT's as a senior ...
Recorded over 900 yards rushing, 120 tackles and five INT's as a junior ...
Father, Gwaine Mathews, is the head football coach at Arkansas-Monticello ...
Coached in high school by Van Pascal.
Eric Mitchell, DB, 5-11, 170, Cape Coral (Mariner HS), FL. A
SuperPrep All-Region pick and rated the No. 98 player in Florida ...
Named to the PrepStar preseason All-Region team ... Rated as
the No. 60 CB in the nation and the No. 74 player in Florida by
Scout.com ... Posted 34 tackles and 10 passes defended as a senior ...
Also rushed for 773 yards and four TD's ... Coached in high school by Chad
Cedric Smith, DB, 5-10, 170, Prattville (HS), AL. Ranked the No. 22 player
in Alabama and the No. 61 CB in the nation by Rivals.com ...
Rated the N0. 81 CB in the nation by ESPN.com .... Earned first
team All-Metro honors from the Montgomery Advertiser as a
senior ... Helped lead Prattville to the 6A state title game as a senior ...
Posted 38 tackles and two INT's as a senior ... Coached in high school by Bill
Damien Jackson, DB, 6-3, 195, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College,
Perkinston, MS. Jackson, a native of Pineville, La., joins the Rebels after two
years at Mississippi Gulf Coast. The two-time MAC All-State pick collected 33
tackles and picked off a pass in nine games and helped the Bulldogs to a 10-2
record and a No. 8 national ranking this season. Jackson was rated the No. 12
junior college player in the country by Scout.com and No. 26 by Rivals.com As a
freshman for the Bulldogs, Jackson posted 54 tackles and 6.0 TFLs. He also
recorded seven interceptions, which tied for second in the nation, and earned
All-Region 23 honors from the NJCAA.
Post-signing day analysis: Quarterbacks |
Running backs |
Wide receivers |Linebackers