Drayton Pleased With Progression Of Secondary

Drayton Pleased With Progression Of Secondary

Southern Miss continued their spring work today as they head toward the conclusion of spring practice and the spring game April 14th. After practice today we caught up with secondary coach Maurice Drayton to talk about the progression of the secondary, who has impressed the new coach thus far, and an inside look at the depth chart.

Southern Miss new secondary coach Maurice Drayton said when he got the call to fill the position on Coach Ellis Johnson's staff, it was one of the easiest decisions he's ever made.

"Everything is going great," he said. "Anytime you come to a place and are able to work for a guy that you know, you trust, and you love, it makes the transition real easy.

"I am just excited to be here and he has assembled a great staff. We work together well, and I have known a lot of these guys for a long time. It is a joy to be a part of to be honest with you."

I asked Coach to talk about his long time relationship with Coach Johnson, and he said the two have known each other back to his own playing days.

"I met Coach Johnson in 1998 when he was at Alabama," he said. "I had just finished my playing career and I was traveling across the country stopping at various colleges looking for jobs.

"I had always heard of him being a Citadel grad, so I pulled into Alabama and introduced myself. I wanna say it was later that season when he came on as the head man at the Citadel he kept me on as a GA.

"After that year he hired me on full time and we've had a great relationship ever since."

Turning to talk about the secondary, Coach Drayton is very pleased about where this veteran group is at this point in the spring.

"I am very, very encouraged," he said. "I tell you what, our safeties look real solid, and we feel like we are two deep at that position. At the corner position Deron Wilson is looking outstanding, and we have three other guys fighting for that other starting position.

"We feel like we have several guys who can be big time players in this league. I'll tell you what, the guys that went before us did a great job laying a foundation for us and we are just tweaking little things.

"These guys have that solid foundation, so I haven't had to come in and rebuild anything. We just want to build off of where they are."

While one corner position is locked down with Deron Wilson in clear command, the side opposite of him is very much in the air.

"We have Alex Walters who, if we had a game tomorrow, would be the starter opposite of Deron," he said. "But I'll tell you what, Tray Becton is looking really good and is an incredible athlete, and Ed Wilkins who redshirted last year is looking really good too.

"Also Marcal Robinson has been hampered by an injury but he's looked real good too before his injury so he's right there too. I think Alex might have started one or two games, so we are pretty green there but they all have a solid foundation."

Coach also updated us on some others in the secondary who are impressing:

Emmanuel Johnson: "He is making the transition from the spur/ nickle back position on third down last year and with our defense this year we feel like he'll give us the best production at the safety spot. I'll tell you what, he's a young man that is small in stature but he has a big heart, he is a ferocious hitter and has a nose for the ball. Right now it is the little things with him like training the eyes and things of that nature."

Tray Becton Martin: "Athletically he has all the tools to be a great corner in this league. What he has to do now is train his eyes so that he trusts what he sees and learning the little things about the position but he'll be one that will be very exciting to watch this fall."

Jerrion Johnson: "He is solid and is a very, very smart player. He has learned that position very well and is our main signal caller back there. He makes sure everyone is in position. He's a solid guy and is a winner and gives us great production."

Justin Penn: "He's coming along slowly but surely. He is behind Jerrion Johnson and has a lot to learn but he has come a long way. He's really gifted athletically as well."

Finally, we talked with Coach about where he wants to see these guys by the end of spring.

"Mentally I want them to understand the concepts of what we are trying to do and knowing where they fit in to the system," he said. "Physically I want them to take each of their individual games a step higher and knowing their limitations and their capabilities."

Coach Drayton also commented that he is eager to get on the recruiting trail and continue to bring in players who will move this program to the next level. "The name Southern Miss sells itself, we've just got to continue to get it out there and build those relationships and we'll get the players in here."

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