Offseason Position Preview: Defensive Backs
June 26, 2013
“Looking ahead to it, I can look at the fact that I think our athleticism will be even better,” he said. “I think that we’re even bigger than what those guys were. I don’t think we’ll see any kind of a drop-off at corner. If anything, my expectation is that it improves. I’m looking forward to that. Anytime you lose guys who make a lot of good plays, you always concern yourself with that. But we’ve got good athletes. It would be different if you lose guys that make a lot of plays and you look behind them and you don’t have guys who are as good.”
FOCUS ON: POSITION CHANGES
“(Wells is) a guy that we think and expect tremendous things from playing the position,” Sawvel said. “He had a good spring doing it. He’s just really versatile. Actually, playing safety for a year, probably more than anything, helped him in his overall understanding of the defense and of playing it. I expect to him to be very, very good this year.”
An injury kept Jones out of fully participating in spring football, but Sawvel believes that he is athletic enough and knows enough about playing defense to be successful at the corner.
Sawvel said that sophomore Steven Montgomery, who played mostly on special teams last year, moved from safety to defensive back in the offseason.
“He had really good performances at the last part of the year,” Sawvel said. “The bowl game, he was outstanding. The Michigan State game, he was really good. He had some really good games at the end of the year as he’s figured it out. What you get from him is consistency, reliability. He’s got experience. He’s not going to panic. He’s not going to flinch. He’s a really good player.”
Thompson and Vereen could both start at safety now that Wells has moved to cornerback. Sawvel said that Thompson, who never played safety before college, was just learning the position a year ago, but has grown into it well.
Sophomore Eric Murray played mostly on special teams last season, but could see a lot more action on defense in 2013. Sawvel said that Murray will have “a big learning curve,” but that he is a superior athlete who had an outstanding spring.
Junior Briean Boddy and senior Martez Shabazz also took a lot of snaps during spring practice. Sawvel described Boddy as “steady, consistent, reliable and a really good athlete.” He said that Shabazz needs to work on consistency, but has the right tools and made some good plays last year. Shabazz was hampered by injuries last fall, but came back in time for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.
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