Texas Tech Depth Chartin' :: The Defensive Backs

Previously on Texas Tech Depth Chartin' :: The Quarterbacks :: The Running Backs :: The Receivers :: The Offensive Line ::  The Defensive Line :: The Linebackers ::

Overall: Three returning starters return from this unit, but I could see a lot of turnover here. That's not to say that I think that this unit was bad last year, but I think that Tuberville and Willis will perhaps have a different perspective on what they value. McNeill valued consistency and not getting beat deep, while Tuberville may want speed all over the field and from reading LAJ's Don Williams article on Sunday where Tuberville is entertaining the thought of putting the cornerbacks on an island which means to me that Tuberville may want safeties that can fly all over the field, and I'm not so sure that Davis and Mitchem are those types of players:

"Bottom line, it depends on your corners — how much confidence they’ve got in themselves,’’ Tuberville said. "Can you put one out there on a guy like (Texas’ Jordan) Shipley and one over there on another guy and say, ‘Y’all got ’em. Everybody move in, and we’re going to play nine-man football?’’

Of course this also means that Tuberville is going to value guys that can absolutely cover and stick to players on the corner positions. One other note, competition breeds better play, and there should be a ton of competition in the defensive backfield this year. It should be interesting.

Follow me after the jump.

Cornerback

Player Ht/Wt Year Probable Role
LaRon Moore 5-9/200 SR Starter
Jarvis Phillips 6-0/189 RS Fr Backup
Urell Johnson 6-1/185 FR Possible Redshirt
Phillip Warren 5-9/177 FR Redshirt

Who Is Gone: Jamar Wall, God speed sir.

Aside: It looks really thin here at cornerback, but I've got a nickel/hybrid category a little further down. My thought is that the bulk of the 2009 defensive back class gets on the field.

Who Is Still Around: LaRon Moore: I think Moore's spot in the starting lineup is about as sure of a lock as you can get. Moore is fast enough, and I think, the type of cornerback that Tuberville wants. I don't get the impression that he's big on size at corner, but values speed and Moore has that.

Jarvis Phillips: Phillips was one of those raw prospects that I think fits well into what Tuberville is going to do. Phillips was a quarterback in high school and the former staff liked his overall athleticism. I get the feeling that cornerback is where he'll eventually settle, but I'm not sure.

Urell Johnson: Aside from Porter, Johnson is the most talented and complete defensive back from the 2010 recruiting class. I think he's a possible redshirt, but I think this is dependent upon whether or not that 2009 recruiting class steps up.

Phillip Warren: This is one of Tuberville's guys and my thought is that he wanted Warren because he has terrific speed. Warren is incredibly fast and like Johnson, Warren should probably redshirt, especially considering the overall depth in the defensive backfield, but if Tuberville puts a priority on speed, then Warren could potentially see the field.

Cornerback

Player Ht/Wt Year Probable Role
D.J. Johnson 6-0/170 SO Starter
Tre'Vante Porter 6-1/185 FR Possible Redshirt
Brandon Smith 6-1/175 FR Redshirt

Who Is Gone: Brent Nickerson, Nathan Stone, De'Shon Sanders and Taylor Charbonnet. God speed, gentlemen.

Aside: Maybe I've missed something, but Taylor Charbonnet is not on the spring roster. Not sure what's happened, just FYI.

Who Is Still Around: D.J. Johnson: Johnson was a lightly recruited player, but absolutely burst onto the scene last year. His athleticism was spectacular and considering Johnson played so well without playing high school ball at a high level, I have very high hopes that Johnson locks down this second cornerback spot, especially as he receives additional coaching.

Tre'Vante Porter: Porter is the most talented defensive back from the 2010 class and if there's a player that could see time, it's Porter. Much like Johnson and Warren, much of this is dependent on whether or not Tuberville wants to take off the redshirt and how much time he'll actually see, especially considering the overall depth.

Brandon Smith: When I first saw Smith's highlight reel, I was blown away. Again, a guy that wasn't necessarily a highly sought after recruit, but he can play. Smith has instincts and he's under the radar, but I really like him as a prospect. I think he benefits from a redshirt year.

Strong Safety

Player Ht/Wt Year Probable Role
Franklin Mitchem 6-2/198 SR Starter
Brett Dewhurst 6-1/193 JR Backup
Yashua Williams 6-3/181 RS FR Backup
Russell Polk 5-11/200 FR Redshirt

Who Is Gone: No one.

Who Is Still Around: Franklin Mitchem: Mitchem was very solid starting at strong safety and I don't think the defense was that much worse when he didn't play, there were a handful of players that redshirted last year that may be more talented than Mitchem. Mitchem is going to have to pick up his play to keep players like Ford, Williams and Bullitt off his spot.

Brett Dewhurst: Dewhurst was the player last year that stepped into a starting role for Mitchem that I thought exceeded expectations. He's not a typical Tuberville player in that he's not a burner, but he can play. Dewhurst would be a guy that I could see making a push for this starting spot as well, as well as seeing the field as a nickel of dime back

Yashua Williams: Both Williams and Polk are unknowns. Williams came in as a nice player with good size and speed. He has the frame to put on weight and I too think he fits what Tuberville wants. I initially thought that Williams could step up in the corner spot last summer, but I'm leaning towards Williams pushing at a safety spot.

Russell Polk : Too much depth in front of Polk for him to see the field this year.

Free Safety

Player Ht/Wt Year Probable Role
Cody Davis 6-2/200 SO Starter
Will Ford 6-1/186 SO Backup
Jared Flannel 5-11/167 JR Backup
Desmond Martin 6-0/173 FR Redshirt

Who Is Gone: No one.

Who Is Still Around: Cody Davis: Davis was the surprise player last year to some, but he seems to be the player that steps up to expectations. He did last year. The same thing I said about Mitchem, you could say about Davis. Depending on what Tuberville wants out of his safeties, could mean a decrease in playing time for Davis, but I don't foresee that happening. What Davis lacks in speed (and he's not slow) he makes up for in taking good angles on plays and seems to understand how to play.

Will Ford: There's just no way that Ford doesn't get on the field, and I can envision Ford getting time at safety, corner or as the designated nickel back. He gets on the field next year, now it's just up to the coaching staff to figure out where he plays.

Jared Flannel: Flannel is one of those forgotten players, but he has value. I don't think he steps in front of any of the other players listed here, but he's a tremendous special teams player and I'd love to see Flannel be the special teams captain this year.

Desmond Martin: I'm not sure that Martin has the speed to play corner, but I think he does eventually morph into a safety. Martin redshirts next year.

Nickel/Dime/Hybrid

Player Ht/Wt Year Probable Role
Will Ford 6-1/186 SO Starter
Yashua Williams 6-3/181 RS FR Backup
Terrance Bullitt 6-3/182 RS Fr Backup
Tre'Vante Porter 6-1/185 FR Possible Redshirt
LaVaughn Whigham 6-1/180 FR Redshirt

Who Is Gone: No one.

Who Is Still Around: Will Ford: He plays. Somewhere. But he plays.

Yashua Williams: You can say the same thing about Williams that you do about Ford. He was pretty talented coming into Texas Tech. I can't imagine him not getting on the field

Terrance Bullitt: Much like Ford and Williams, it just doesn't seem like Bullitt doesn't see the field in some form or fashion this year. He has the size, speed and bloodlines to get on the field. Son of a gun, there's a lot of defensive backs.

Tre'Vante Porter: Talked about Porter above, but he's ready to play. Not sure if he plays this year, but he plays sooner rather than later.

LaVaughn Whigham: I thought that Whigham was the type of player that could eventually morph into a linebacker (think Daniel Cobb) given a year to mature.

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