Texas Tech Football Position Preview | The Defensive Backs

Tom Pennington

Let's take a look at the defensive backs, including a depth chart and the eligibility remaining. There's a ton of competition at every position.

The same caveats apply as we did before. This is a guess and it is supposed to be fun. Much like the linebackers, there is a lot of players here and a lot of competition. More than I really imagined and only bolstered by signing so many defensive backs as part of the 2014 class. Let's go.

Depth Chart & Eligibility Remaining
Depth Player Year Ht/Wt. 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Field Cornerback
1st Team Dee Paul RS FR 6-0/165
2nd Team Martin Hill SR 5-11/170
3rd Team Jeremy Reynolds JR 5-9/170
4th Team Theirry Nguema SO 5-10/160
5th Team Brandon Bagley SR 5-10/170
6th Team Nigel Bethel, II FR 5-9/170
Free Safety
1st Team Keenon Ward SO 5-9/195
2nd Team Josh Keys JR 6-2/180
3rd Team Jalen Barnes RS FR 5-11/185
4th Team Derrick Dixon FR
5-10/195
Strong Safety
1st Team J.J. Gaines JR 5-10/180
2nd Team Dorian Crawford SR 6-2/200
3rd Team Caleb Woodward RS FR 6-0/200
4th Team Payton Hendrix FR 6-3/190
Boundary Cornerback
1st Team Justis Nelson SO 6-2/170
2nd Team Tyler Middleton JR 6-0/190
3rd Team La'Darius Newbold SO 5-11/195
4th Team Jah'Shawn Johnson FR 5-10/170
5th Team Michael Coley FR 6-2/185

Field Cornerback

I'm going off of body types and sizes here. Remember, the field cornerback is supposed to the the smaller, but rangier of the two cornerbacks. The guy that can cover more ground. I have no doubt that if push comes to shove, Kevin Curtis will put his best cornerbacks on the field, no matter size.

I have a bad feeling that we might miss Bruce Jones this next year because I thought that Jones was really pretty good. You heard his name called a few times earlier in the year, but he was really solid.

In any event, you've got a couple of guys, Paul, Hill and Reynolds who I think have a shot. Bagley and Nguema are guys, but I don't know really all that much about them. I just haven't seen them play all that much. With Reynolds, you could maybe say the same thing, but I think he's got something.

Paul's placement at the top is based solely on potential. What he's supposed to be. Hill's placement here is based on a JUCO guy finally getting his shot his senior year. We'll see if he can make his move. He was a three-start sort of guy coming out of JUCO, but hardly played at all this past year.

The battle at the Field CB spot with Bethel should be fantastic. Bethel is starting here for no other reason other than he's young, but the battle with Bethel and Paul at this spot, if they both stay here should be just terrific for years to come. True, shutdown field cornerbacks.

Position Reviews
Defensive Tackles
Linebackers
Defensive Backs
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Receivers
Quarterbacks

Free Safety

I'm not ready to kick off Ward just yet. I know that Keys was essentially brought in to play and start at safety, but I think the race of Ward, Keys and Barnes is going to be spectacular this spring. Keys is supposed to be versatile enough to play both safety and cornerback and I get the feeling that Keys could even be a safety as well as maybe the nickel cornerback. That could be huge for this team because he's got size on all of his competition. This is a position group that sets up nicely for a long time.

Strong Safety

This is another spot that I think sets up pretty nicely. Gaines is the leader in the clubhouse, with Crawford and Woodward being unknowns at this point. I think Crawford has a redshirt year available, but I'm not sure. I've seen Crawford at cornerback and safety, but given his size, this seems more likely.

Woodward spent the year redshirting and I'm not sure if he'll be a cornerback or a safety, but he's already got nice size, as a true freshman, and he was a terrific athlete coming out of Leander and I think this is just about his adjustment. It's why I think Crawford is ahead of him for now. Hendrix picks up the rear, although I'm about as excited as anyone regarding Hendrix.

Boundary Cornerback

Nelson won the spot here during the latter part of the year, but how awesome does this battle look with Middleton working against him? I know that some of you were excited to see Middleton at running back, but the coaches obviously want him on the field and then you add Newbold in the mix and you have an incredibly interesting group of players. Again, I could see any one of these guys flip to the other cornerback spot. I think there's more talent at the BCB spot than at the FCB spot, from top to bottom. I don't know if Johnson is a BCB or FCB, but put him here for now as I see Bethel locking up the FCB spot long-term. Coley is a bonus right now, unexpected and the coaching staff immediately compared Coley to Nelson. That's what they see.

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