The injury bug has certainly taken its toll on No. 13 Ole Miss this season, and the news may have just gotten worse for the Rebels.
During coach Hugh Freeze’s weekly radio show Monday, Freeze was asked about the status of junior defensive back Tony Conner, who sustained a torn meniscus in Ole Miss’ 43-37 win over Alabama.
Conner was originally expected to miss four-to-six weeks, which would mark the Oct. 24 showdown versus Texas A&M as his earliest return date. But Freeze’s response made it sound like Conner’s return this season may be in doubt.
“I’m concerned about it, but I don’t have a real update,” Freeze said. “I’ve just talked to Tony. Where it should be right now? I don’t know. I probably shouldn’t even say that right now. There’s no question that losing him, Issac (Gross) and C.J. (Johnson) off our defense is a blow. Those are three veterans, two seniors.
“It sure would be nice to get them back, but it will be nice next year to have Issac back for sure, and Tony also looks like now that’s going to be best for him. We’ll miss them the rest of the season for sure. It changes us some. We’ve got to make due without them.”
Losing Conner for the year would certainly be a big hit for the “Landshark” defense. Last week, Ole Miss moved senior Mike Hilton from safety to Conner’s Huskie position in the Rebels’ 4-2-5 defense, and sophomore C.J. Hampton took over the starting role at safety.
The good news for Ole Miss is that Freeze indicated Conner would likely return for his senior season in 2016. Conner has been highly regarded as one of the top safeties in country, and some NFL draft experts had him pegged as a potential first-round pick in April’s NFL draft.