OXFORD • All ACL tears are not created equal.
As such, getting back from damage to the knee’s anterior cruciate ligament is different for different people.
So while Ole Miss junior cornerback Jaylon Jones goes through camp and tries to regain his starting position, senior safety Montrell Custis has not yet gotten back on the field.
Jones and Custis were injured just two weeks a part last year. Jones tore his ACL in the season opener against Texas Tech, Custis in Week 3 against Alabama.
“Sometimes I really can’t push on it and stuff like that, but I know it’s mental, because we got great trainers out here, great doctors. They say my knee’s real structured,” Custis said.
If Custis can make it back he can bring experienced depth to free safety, his current spot in the new coordinator Mike MacIntyre’s 3-4 defense.
He started the first three games at nickel last year and was playing the best ball of his career. Previously unable to stick as a starter, Custis had managed just 13 tackles over his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons in 2016 and 2017.
He opened with a bang against Texas Tech, breaking up four passes and recording a career-high seven tackles, one for loss.
He had three tackles against Alabama before leaving with the injury.
Custis believes when he’s healthy the new system will help him pick up where he left off.
“It puts me in a lot of positions. They’ve got me playing a lot of deep safety. Everybody knows I can play nickle. That’s where I’m a good fit. Coach Mac’s scheme is great. I feel like I’m going to be put in the right position a lot of the time. I just have to get back healthy,” Custis said.
Presently Armani Linton, the former Walnut standout who has played running back and defensive back at Ole Miss, is listed behind Jalen Julius at free safety.
Custis was rated as a cornerback and safety in high school at Jonesboro, Georgia. He was an Alabama commitment before signing with Ole Miss.
Ole Miss coach Matt Luke, at his preseason press conference last week, said he believed Custis was still a couple of weeks from getting on the field.
“Mentally he’s got to turn the corner,” Luke said.
For now he participates in individual drills but leaves the field to go inside and work on strengthening the knee.
“I just pray to God, rely on teammates and keep pushing through,” Custis said. “Right now I’m trying to key in for the end of fall camp, maybe by the last week try to get back out there with the guys.
“I want to be out there before Game 1, get my speed back.”