Former SEC player finds home in OVC

Chynna Miller | The Daily Eastern News

The Daily Eastern News

Chynna Miller | The Daily Eastern News

Anthony Catezone, Managing Editor

Name a wide receiver from the Southeastern Conference last season. Chances are Eastern defensive back Anthony Standifer has lined up across from him.

“(The Ohio Valley Conference) is slowed down a lot to me,” Standifer said. “I’m not saying the competition isn’t comparable, but there is nothing like playing in the SEC.”

Standifer is a junior transfer from Ole Miss who has experience defending the likes of Jordan Matthews (from Vanderbilt, now a Philadelphia Eagle), Marquise Goodwin (from Texas, now a Buffalo Bill) and Standifer’s former Ole Miss teammate, Donte Mocrief (now an Indianapolis Colt).

“I came from the best conference in college football,” Standifer said. “I played against those guys — they’re some of the best.”

Also, Standifer has had a lifetime of experience against Ole Miss standout wide receiver Laquon Treadwell.

Standifer and Treadwell are both products of Crete-Monee High School. In 2012, Standifer committed to Ole Miss as the No. 30 rated corner back in the nation by scout.com.

The following year, Treadwell followed his best friend, committing to Ole Miss as the No. 1 wide receiver, according to the ESPN Top-300.

“I always have had confidence just because who my best friend is [Treadwell],” Standifer said. “I have been guarding him ever since high school.”

But after one season together, Standifer and Treadwell saw separate paths as Rebels.

Treadwell earned SEC Freshman of the Year and was named a First Team Freshman All-American.

Standifer, meanwhile, was dismissed from Ole Miss for undisclosed reasons.

“I got in a little trouble myself,” Standifer said. “Overall, it wasn’t the right place for me.”

But coincidentally, Kane Wommack took the defensive coordinator position at Eastern. Wommack was a defensive graduate assistant under his father, Dave, the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss.

Wommack mainly oversaw the defensive backs in his two-year stint at Ole Miss, making his relationship with Standifer that much more personal.

Through several coaches at Ole Miss, Wommack was made aware of Standifer’s dismissal and he knew the opportunity was too perfect to pass up.

After all, growing up in his father’s defensive scheme, Wommack runs the exact same system at Eastern as Dave does at Ole Miss.

Other than signal calling, the similarities are uncanny, from the schematic nuts and bolts to the way the PowerPoint presentations are conducted in defensive meetings.

“I could just come in, pick right up, be fast and on point with everything,” Standifer said.

Wanting to play immediately, and not sit out a year because of NCAA transfer regulations, Standifer elected to transfer down to the FCS level.

Sam Houston State, Alabama State and South Alabama were among the numerous FCS programs recruiting Standifer.

“I didn’t want him to get flustered and make a wrong decision,” Wommack said.

So, Wommack eased the process of recruiting Standifer to Eastern. Standifer scheduled a visit in June — he fell in love.

Standifer likened Charleston to a downsized Oxford, Miss., but what Oxford did not have was proximity.

“I didn’t want to be back down south; I wanted to be closer to home,” Standifer said.

And so begun Standifer’s time at Eastern, bringing his SEC experience with him, teaching Eastern’s defensive backs the speed of the SEC.

Fellow Eastern defensive back DJ Bland said Standifer’s experience defending the country’s best receivers helps Standifer and his teammates build confidence.

“He knows what receivers are capable of,” Bland said. “He’ll tell us, ‘don’t worry about that receiver. Relax, and everything will be fine.’”

Apparently, Standifer knows what he is talking about.

Eastern is ranked second in the OVC and 17th in the nation in pass defense, surrendering just 156.2 yards per game.

Anthony Catezone can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]