Ole Miss’ Cedric Johnson Looks for Defensive Transfers to Blend Well with Rebel Veterans
ATLANTA – In 1972, the Miami Dolphins rolled to the only undefeated season in NFL history mainly on the strength of the team’s “No Name Defense.” A half century later, Ole Miss will be looking for success with the Rebels’ “New Name Defense.”
Some of the new names Rebel fans should get used to in 2022 include defensive lineman J.J. Pegues from Auburn, linebackers Jared Ivy (Georgia Tech), Khari Coleman (TCU), Troy Brown (Central Michigan), Danny Lockhart II (Southern Cal), and Reginald Hughes (Northeast Mississippi CC), and defensive backs Ladarrius Tennison (Auburn) and Isheem Young (Iowa State).
But for the newcomers to be successful, they must be accepted by the veteran players. Junior Cedric Johnson spoke at SEC Media Days and said developing a relationship with the new players is essential to success for the defense this season.
“Let’s continue to have a bond as a brotherhood, just continue to stick together and work together. With the new transfers it can be, it could be some different things, so I feel like just stayding together as a unit, inviting the new transfers in and welcoming them, and loving them…I feel like that’s just the biggest thing.”
Ole Miss’ Cedric Johnson
"…I feel like just staying together as a unit, inviting the new transfers in and welcoming them and loving them is the biggest thing.” —
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) July 21, 2022
Another ‘new’ name, which really isn’t, is Chris Partridge. He served as the co-defensive coordinator last year, but with the departure of D.J. Durkin, he will be the man in charge of the Landsharks.
“I feel like with the new defensive coordinator (Partridge), he was already there (last year),” Johnson said. “So, I feel like him stepping up, for us it was just welcoming not a new guy in, it would be different if we had a completely new guy. So, I feel like with him stepping in we already knew him, we already love C.P., so just like hey you’re the guy now.”
While the defense will not drastically change from last season, Johnson said there are some differences.
“I feel he is bringing in a lot more aggression, it’s going to be a lot more fun for everybody. He has a lot more packages, we’re going to be a lot more multiple, so I feel like everybody’s going to have fun.”
Cedric Johnson on the defense under Chris Partridge
The defense will not only consist of new faces as Ole Miss does return some experienced veterans.
“We still got A.J. (Finley), we got Miles (Battle) and just guys like that,” Johnson said. “We got Tavius (Robinson), and KD (Hill)…we got other leaders stepping up for sure.”
The blend of the transfers and returning players gives Ole Miss something it has not had in past years.
“I feel the depth that we got, I mean we got so many guys now that can do what the next or the starting guy is doing,” Johnson said.
“So, I feel like if I get tired, I got another guy behind me that’s doing the same thing. Or I got Tavius (Robinson) right next to me who can eat just like I can, so I feel like the depth – and it’s just breeding competition, so the next man is making me better and I’m making him better.”
Cedric Johnson on Rebels’ depth
Coming off a 10-win season in 2021 has the returning players looking to maintain that success. According to Johnson, that attitude has spread to the newest Rebels.
“The new guys coming in, they’re ready to win,” Johnson said.
The first opportunity for a win arrives Sept. 3, when Troy visits Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
(Feature image credit: Evie Van Pelt, The Rebel Walk)
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.