Going position by position for the Rebels after signing day …
In a position of need Hugh Freeze picked up two players who can compete for playing time right away.
Flipping Tee Shepard from Mississippi State was huge on two fronts. Most importantly it gives Ole Miss an athlete that can potentially earn a starting job. To a lesser extent but at the same time, it keeps that athlete away from the in-state rival.
If he wins a job, Shepard could bring stability to the position because he’ll have three years to play three.
First he has to get eligible at Holmes Community College this spring. Freeze believes he can.
In his only season on the field for Holmes, Shepard broke up six passes, picked off one and recovered two fumbles.
Freeze says Stockbridge, Ga., true freshman Kendarius Webster could also get on the field early.
The Rebels return two starters at cornerback in Senquez Golson, a rising senior, and Mike Hilton, a rising junior.
Hilton isn’t a natural corner but adapted quickly at the position when the Rebels needed some help. It’s possible he could move around to help other positions on a defense that is building depth.
The same goes for Derrick Jones. He’s very athletic, and Freeze will try to find a place for him. At 6-foot-2 he gave the Rebels an advantage in some matchups, but Shepard, at 6-1, can do the same.
Jones got in nine games as a true freshman, starting four. He was credited with 27 tackles, a tackle for loss and two passes broken up.
Jones signed as a wide receiver. He was quickly moved to safety and then cornerback. It won’t be shocking to see Jones on the move again if Shepard and Webster start gobbling up reps at cornerback.
Quintavius Burdette, a rising junior, was the opening night starter at corner. He appeared in 12 games and had four tackles on the year.
David Kamara was redshirted last fall, and the status of Bobby Hill, another freshman, remains unclear following his arrest on a sexual battery charge. He is suspended indefinitely.
Remember what a question mark this position was last August with Golson and Charles Sawyer both hurt and very little depth?
Provided the health remains good it looks very different going into spring.