March 9, 2012
More depth in 2012
What we knew about the DBs coming into the spring:
The Texas Tech secondary wasn't much better than the run defense in front of it.
Part of that can be attributed to the lack of a pass attack, but the major factor was simply attrition. The situation at defensive back became so desperate that essentially the best athletes available, wide receivers, ended up at cornerback.
One of those moves has paid off in Cornelius Douglas, but exiting Cowboys Stadium in a season-ending loss against Baylor all Red Raider fans knew there needed to be some changes in the secondary.
For starters, the Red Raiders have shifted back to the tried and true 4-3 defensive scheme which eliminates a weak safety in favor of a linebacker. With Cody Davis and D.J. Johnson at the safety positions, Terrance Bullitt has moved to a more natural linebacker position. Between a freshman All-American and one of the best athletes on the defensive side of the ball, there shouldn't be much to worry about up top.
Tech also brought in Los Angeles Pierce College safety Austin Stewart to add depth.
At cornerback, Tre' Porter was expected to shine in the spring coming off of a head injury and guys like Derrick Mays and Jarvis Phillips were expected to develop from their sophomore seasons. Additionally, Jeremy Reynolds was coming out of his redshirt season and Eugene Neboh could be a possible factor at corner.
Furthermore, the Red Raiders bolstered depth at the position with a standout high school corners and some community college transfers and Thierry Nguema enrolled after greyshirting last season.
If everyone stays healthy at safety, there should be good depth all the way around in the secondary.
What we know at the midway point of spring ball:
We've learned what other schools thought they knew when recruiting Douglas. He's a better player in the secondary than he was at receiver.
Douglas took his position change to heart and was committed during the Red Raiders short offseason between December and February. He looks like a good corner and right now he's Tech's No. 1.
The former receiver is very physical and can handle guys like Darrin Moore and Bradley Marquez the most effectively time after time.
On the other hand, a limited Porter has disappointed. He's slipped from a starting corner to a nickel package corner to beyond the No. 3 corner. Porter still isn't cleared for full contact as a precautionary measure, but he hasn't been much of a factor.
Neboh looks like he's got the No. 2 corner job right now and has vastly improved from his walk-on days.
Reynolds is a guy that has really emerged just from the first spring practice to the 10th session. He's getting more physical every day and could be a 'physical' corner as early as this season.
Mays and Phillips are guys who are kind of stagnant right now, but they're getting reps and should be part of the pass defense this upcoming season.
Nguema is still too raw to judge right now.
Projecting the offseason:
Douglas and Neboh will come out of the spring as the starting cornerbacks along with Davis and Johnson at the safety positions.
Porter will recover and make a push on Neboh for that second starting spot in fall camp.
Hopefully Olaoluwa Falemi and Bruce Jones both make it from junior college to Tech from an academic standpoint and the Red Raiders will definitely gain La'Darius Newbold from Lancaster (Texas).
The three players can certainly push for playing time right off the bat. If Newbold can push Reynolds, Mays and Porter, he probably won't redshirt and Jones is someone the coaching staff believes could come in and start right away.
Again, depth shouldn't be as much of a problem going into the 2012 season and you have to like the upgrade in the talent pool as well.
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