October 14, 2008

South Panola star on verge of switching

David Conner had one heck of an interesting Friday, and it started long before the Batesville (South Panola), Miss., defensive back ever took the field.

Conner, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound, three-star prospect who committed to Auburn prior to the season, was the subject of a visit to the Ole Miss campus by first-year Rebel head man Houston Nutt.

"I took it very seriously because I think Coach Nutt really believes in me and believes I can come over there and help his program and help change some things next year and a couple of years down the road," Conner said Monday night. "It seems he really wants me to be a part of the program. I was very interested in that."

It marks a bit of a change for Conner, who did not garner an offer from Ole Miss during the summer. The Rebels have apparently had a change of heart, however, after watching the hard-hitting strong safety dominate Friday nights on the prep fields of north Mississippi.

"I also talked to (Ole Miss offensive line) Coach (Mike) Markuson," Conner said. "He told me he was sorry for not getting back in touch with me because he thought they weren't going to get me. He told me he wants me to be a part of it and that Coach Nutt believes in me. I know coach Nutt has me on his mind. He continues to get in touch with me."

That knowledge has changed things for Conner, who has never made any bones about the fact that he'd like to remain close to home if possible. Oxford is some 21 miles east of Batesville.

"He's keeping me on the edge of going with them," Conner said. "I'm thinking about it a lot. I'm still thinking about things. At the end of the season, I'll know for sure what I'm going to do."

Part of the equation that is contributing to Conner's possible change of heart is the fallout at Auburn. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin was fired last week, and following a loss to Arkansas Saturday on the Plains, veteran Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is very much on the hotseat.

"I thought at the beginning of the year, they were going to be on point, but right now, everything is falling apart for them and things aren't looking too good for them," Conner said. "If anything else changes over there and that coaching staff isn't there, I don't think I'd be able to attend the program.

"I talked to (Auburn offensive line) Coach (Hugh) Nall recently. He didn't say too much of anything. He just said they're still thinking about me and hoping I'd make my final decision and I'd stick with it."

Conner, who said he's averaging about seven tackles per game for the unbeaten Tigers, is looking forward to Friday's game at Tupelo. Specifically, Conner is eager to lock horns with Tupelo four-star wide receiver Chad Bumphis.

"I'm really looking forward to that," Conner said. "Me and Chad Bumphis text and talk every Friday night. This is it, his team against my team. We're just going to battle it out and may the best team win."

Conner and Bumphis will go at each other Friday, but it's becoming a possibility that the two could wind up playing college football together. As with Conner, Ole Miss is making a strong move for Bumphis, and Nutt is taking a personal hand in Bumphis' recruiting as well.

"We've talked about it a couple of times, but he still hasn't made his decision yet and he's still kind of confused about what he's doing too," Conner said. "We'll just let time take place and in February, everyone will know. If me and Chad could go to college and play together, it would be outstanding and a dream come true. When we went to Jackson to take the Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen pictures, he became like a brother to me. He's a lot like me."

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