Posted: 8:22 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013
By Juco All-American
The safety position last season was a strength of the defense. Cody Prewitt finished his sophomore year with 80 tackles, 5 TFLs, 2 INTs, 2 FFs, and 2 FRs. He was a playmaker all year and developed a reputation for hitting hard and exciting the rest of the defense. In his true freshman season, Trae Elston performed very well, accumulating 61 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 fumble recovery. Elston hits harder than Prewitt (and was penalized as such). He has some tendencies to get overly aggressive, but Elston is a good player from whom the coaches expect a lot of output. The only real backup last year was Chief Brown, who only picked up seventeen tackles despite playing in twelve games and starting one. Brown played alright, but there was a noticeable drop in production when he entered games.
At the Husky spot, Mike HIlton and Dehendret Collins battled back and forth for the starting job. Both performed alright, with Hilton playing a major role in the near upset of Texas A&M.; Both are a little undersized for the position, but what else is new on this defense?
Little has changed among the starters. Prewitt and Elston are both expected to start, and reports from practice indicate they have improved in coverage a bit, something that was necessary if they wanted to take a step up in production. Chief Brown, however, has seemingly taken a huge leap and is ready to contribute to the team. Brown was the defense's most improved player in the Spring and has picked up where he left off in the Fall. Brown is constantly mentioned by coaches as a "co-starter" at the safety position and will backup both Prewitt and Elston. He will play a lot.
Hilton returns to battle for starts at the husky position. He's likely to play a lot and provides some dynamic coverage opportunities close to the line. Collins actually moved over to cornerback due to lack of depth there and the addition of a highly talented freshman.
The Rebels added several players who could end up at safety but only two who are currently at the position. Derrick Jones, who was recruited as a receiver, is likely figuring in as the #4 safety on the team. He has a lot of talent but will need to learn the position. Trey Bledsoe is expected to redshirt unless the coaches plan to use him on special teams coverage.
As for the husky position, USP grad Antonio Conner is vying for the starting job. His size (6'2" 205) is much more imposing than Hilton's (5'8" 190), and he's likely to play a ton in running situations. Coverage has been his downfall, but that is apparently improving. Look for him to make some devastating hits and then probably some freshman mistakes. He's going to be a great player in time and is the forgotten five-star.