SDS talent evaluators Jon Cooper and Brad Crawford spent several months breaking down last year’s highlights, incoming talent and projected 2014 impact following spring practice to compile a list of the SEC’s Top 100 players heading into fall. Athletes were selected by position then ranked overall counting down to No. 1.

Stick with SDS throughout summer and get in on the action using the hashtag #SDSTop100 as we unveil a new player daily leading up to opening night on Aug. 28.

28. Tony Conner, Soph., S, Ole Miss

The first of two Ole Miss defensive backs in our Top 100, Conner’s already shown in one banner season that he’s ready for success in the SEC. Inserted into the game on the sixth play of last year’s opener at Vanderbilt, Conner picked off Austyn Carta-Samuels on third down on his first college snap. Instant impact. Paired alongside veteran ballhawk Cody Prewitt, Conner tallied 66 tackles — second-best among SEC freshmen — and was rarely caught out of position despite his inexperience at the collegiate level.

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The Ole Miss coaching staff is expecting another leap forward from Conner as a leader on defense at the ‘Husky’ position, a hybrid performer on the second level with enough skills to blitz or drop back in coverage. Rebels defensive coordinator Dave Wommack trusts that Conner can cover the opposition’s slot receiver when needed or go man-to-man on the outside.

The sophomore’s overall multi-position skill set is a hot commodity in the secondary, talent NFL scouts are keeping an eye on.

2013 statistics: 66 tackles, INT, 7 PD
2014 projection: 68 tackles, 2 INT, 8 PD