Springer eager to show what he learned in transfer year
OXFORD -- Jake Springer didn't play last season, as he was forced to sit out a season while he transferred from Navy to Ole Miss.
It was anything but a year off.
Instead, every day in practice, Springer put on his scout team jersey and lined up opposite Ole Miss All-American wide receiver Elijah Moore.
"Last year, it was awesome, honestly," Springer said. "Coming from my perspective, I think it's tough for guys to sit out coming off playing a lot of football, too. But I lined up every morning against, in my eyes, the best wide receiver in the draft right now.
"Now, when I'm coming in against every other wide receiver corps in the SEC, I think the game has just slowed down a little bit."
Springer is preparing to play a big role for Ole Miss' defense this season. During spring drills, which continued Thursday, Springer has been playing nickel, dime and safety.
"They've got me moving around to like a rover position," Springer said. "When we have a three-safety look, they have me, A.J. (Finley) and Otis (Reese) back there right now."
Springer mostly played nickel at Navy, where he recorded 107 tackles and two interceptions before transferring after the 2019 season.
"First off, it's just go win," Springer said, when asked Thursday about his goals for the 2021 season. "That does a lot for the team, obviously. If we're winning, everyone is happy and getting accomplishments and accolades they want to get. My goals for the defense are getting stops and playing a lot more confident and aggressive than we did last year. Personally, my goals are to help however I can and if that means making plays when they come at me, then that's what it is.
"I'm comfortable all over the field. If the ball's out there, just roll it out and as long as I'm out there, I'm comfortable."
Springer took advantage of the free time last year, occasionally sitting in on wide receiver meetings just to see how the other side thinks and prepares.
"I'm real grateful for that," Springer said.
That extra work has shown up during spring drills.
"I think Jake is a phenomenal player," Ole Miss defensive back Jaylon Jones said. "He brings a lot of versatility and aggressiveness and that swagger he brings. He really can play everywhere. Where we've got him now, though, I think he's in a good position. He's a guy who can play the run, cover, be a ball hawk. He's definitely a vital piece of this defense and I can't wait to play with him this year."
The Kansas City, Mo., native said he chose Ole Miss quickly after hearing from co-defensive coordinator Chris Partridge.
"Ole Miss, for me, checks all the boxes," Springer said. "It's a big-time program in the best conference in the nation. We've got athletes here. We've got Coach (Lane) Kiffin coming in and establishing his schemes and what he has going on in his organization. I think that's what attracted me, really. It was a no-brainer from that first call."