It’s hard to pin down exactly what the defensive backfield will look like for the Rebels next year, as several backups and young players will have their chance to emerge as key players now that safeties Trae Elston and Mike Hilton have graduated. Several experienced players return to the Rebels’ secondary, but newer Rebels will play a big role in determining how good the pass defense is next season.
The starting two cornerbacks don’t figure to change, as junior Kendarius Webster and senior Tony Bridges both return. Bridges had some struggles acclimating from the junior college ranks last season but has good range and flashed the ability to create turnovers. Webster, meanwhile, has been playing since he was a freshman and should have no trouble being the Rebels’ top cornerback once again.
Behind them, seniors Carlos Davis and Kailo Moore both return, but a few of the younger players stand a chance at breaking into the lineup this season. Redshirt freshman Jalen Julius is already well on his way, as he is currently listed as a second-string cornerback and will likely see time there and possibly as a returner, too. Sophomore Cameron Ordway could also rotate in at cornerback if the Rebels need him.
Last season, the Rebels’ plans for the huskie position had to be changed on the fly when star Tony Conner tore his meniscus during the game against Alabama and missed much of the season. Former senior Mike Hilton and junior A.J. Moore split most of the time there, and Moore will return as a backup there this season. Redshirt freshman Armani Linton could also see time there as a backup. For the starting spot, Conner is expected to return this season and will change the Rebels’ defense completely should he return at full strength.
At free safety, junior C.J. Hampton returns after starting four games at the spot last season. Hampton is currently fighting for the spot with sophomore Zedrick Woods. Woods played all over the secondary in his freshman season at Ole Miss but could find a permanent spot at free safety should he win the job. Redshirt freshman Armani Linton is currently listed as the second-string player at that spot.
At rover, true freshman Myles Hartsfield is currently listed as the starter. Hartsfield was an early enrollee and still has plenty to learn but brings good athleticism to the position. Junior C.J. Moore is listed as his backup right now and will bring speed and experience to the position but has yet to find a starting role in the Rebels’ defense.
Also joining the secondary are Texas safeties Deontay Anderson and Greg Eisworth and cornerback Jaylon Jones.