Red vs. Black, Spring Position Battles: Defensive Back

A position-by-position look at the Texas Tech Red Raiders heading into spring practice. "Classifications" are based on entering school next fall. "Probable Roles" are merely guesses and welcome comments, thoughts and suggestions.

DEFENSIVE BACK

Much like defensive line, the defensive backfield is going to be a little bit of a mess this spring. Lots of these are educated guesses. I think the only position that's a guarantee is Jamar Wall at cornerback.  Other than that, it's whoever is ready to step up.

Cornerback

Jamar Wall

Taylor Charbonnet

DeShon Sanders

Height: 5-10 5-10 6-1
Weight: 195 168 198
Classification: Senior Sophomore Senior
Probable Role: Starter Second String Third String

 

Not worried about Wall in the least. I didn't think that he was perfect last year, but he was pretty damned good and there's little for me to complain about here. Almost every other option at cornerback had their ups and downs.   I've stuck T. Charbonnet, but he may be one of those guys that surprises this spring. T. Charbonnet may be the fastest and quickest player on the team and there may not be anyone better in coverage that T. Charbonnet. His obvious downside is his size and 5-10/168 may be pushing it. It's not that he's afraid of contact, he just lacks the size of your typical Big 12 cornerback. That's not to say that he can't play, it's just not going to be as easy.  Sanders gets the call here, simply because he's been at Texas Tech the longest (I believe he redshirted a year) and he was supposed to be a pretty good athlete coming out of JUCO, I'm hoping that he's turned the corner a bit and may be able to compete somewhere in the defensive backfield.

Cornerback

Brent Nickerson

LaRon Moore

Trent Nickerson

Height: 6-0 5-9 6-4
Weight: 195 186 196
Classification: Senior Junior Sophomore
Probable Role: Starter Second String Third String

 

As stated above, B. Nickerson is the surest bet at the other cornerback spot, but not an absolute. I'm not as bullish on B. Nickerson as others and might prefer Moore's or Richardson's speed over B. Nickerson's size and I could see McNeill changing his philosphy a bit in that respect. I think last year, he wanted a cornerback with some actual size, like Nickerson or Reed, but the thing that bothered me the most last year was the deep pass play for big gains. If the cornerback can't keep up with the receiver, then there's a problem.   Of course last year, McNeill felt that his unit was better in zone, and has already mentioned this year that this unit may be better at man coverage. This means to me that the quicker and faster cornerbacks may get the look rather than the bigger corners. I can't say that I remember much about T. Nickerson, but he obviously has tremendous size for the cornerback position. We'll see.

Safety

Cody Davis

Brent Dewhurst

Jarrell Routt

Height: 6-2 6-0 6-0
Weight: 205 194 191
Classification: RS Freshman Junior Senior
Probable Role: Starter Second String Third String

 

Davis was one of those Thursday night scrimmage stars and he had better be ready to play. Remember that the safety position loses almost everyone who saw significant time last year so this group is really going to have to be ready to go from the beginning. Davis is plenty athletic to play the safety position and for whatever reason, I'm pretty comfortable here.   Dewhurst is behind Davis, but depending on how he plays this spring, he could move into the other safety position. Dewhurst is the other true safety on the team (other than Davis and Mitchem). I've thrown Routt at safety because he hasn't shown up as a blip on the radar at cornerback and if he's been paying attention, perhaps he gets a look at safety simply to get him some playing time.

Safety

Franklin Mitchem

Jared Flannel

DeShon Sanders

Height: 6-2 5-11 6-1
Weight: 201 173 198
Classification: Junior Sophomore Senior
Probable Role: Starter Second String Third String

 

Mitchem is the penciled in starter, but there are lots of people high on Flannel making an impact on the field this year. Flannel was at corner all of last year, but due to the lack of numbers at safety, the staff is comfortable putting Flannel at safety for this spring.  Flannel will be one of those players who plays next year, no matter the position. Originally recruited as a running back, he was moved last spring to the defensive side of the ball. I do remember Flannel making plays on special teams last year and I remember him being an aggressive special teams player, which is probably why the staff likes him on the field. Flannel is the guy to watch this spring. Much like Routt, Sanders gets the nod here, only because he's barely in the top three at cornerback and he's got to get some looks somewhere. I'm not expecting much, but at the very least, he needs a position and safety needs the numbers.

FR Cornerbacks

Yahshua
Williams

D.J.
Johnson

Jarvis
Phillips

Height: 6-3 6-0 6-0
Weight: 185 171 185
Classification: Freshman Freshman Freshman
Probable Role: Possible Special Teams Redshirt Redshirt

 

I'm not expecting any of these guys to play this year, except for Williams, although I'm leaning towards just letting all three of these guys redshirt, and get bigger and stronger. There's plenty of guys on the team who can play special teams and right now, there's really not a need for any of them to play at cornerback. I like the potential of all three guys.  They're all rangy athletes that could play multiple positions.

FR Safeties

Will
Ford

Daniel
Cobb

Terrance
Bullitt

Aaron
Charbonnet

Height: 6-1 6-1 6-2 5-11
Weight: 190 195 178 185
Classification: Freshman Freshman Freshman Freshman
Probable Role: Possible Backup
Possible Backup Redshirt Redshirt

 

I love all of the prospects at safety and much like the freshmen cornerbacks, all of these guys are rangy athletes with good size and speed. I like this recipe of getting athletes and coaching them up.   If I had to put money on any of these freshmen getting time on the field next year, it would be Ford or Cobb. Both already have Big 12 size and speed to make an immediate impact. If the staff doesn't like their options at safety, then these two are ready to go and I could even envision a scenario where the staff thinks that the upside of these two guys playing now is better than most of the current options. Bullitt is plenty talented, but needs to add weight to play safety. He'll most likely see a redshirt this next year, but it's not because of lack of talent. Supposedly, A. Charbonnet is the best of all three Charbonnet brothers, but due to injuries during most of his high school career, he proved himself his senior season, being named to the 14-5A 1st Team Defense.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Lots of question marks and the spring is going to be very interesting. Right now, I think that Ford and Cobb may be more talented than any of the other options at safety, but the question is whether or not they will be able to progress in the fall when they report to Texas Tech.

Thanks to kayakyar for helping out.

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