There is now less than two weeks until the start of fall camp for the Red Raiders, and although 10 of the 11 defensive starters for the Red Raiders are returning, only one spot seems to remain open on the defensive side of the ball, nosetackle. Nosetackle is the most interior defensive lineman, and usually lines up over the offensive center. Last year, that spot was occupied by Mych Thomas, who has now graduated and moved on the NFL with the New York Jets. This leaves a huge hole at the center of a very strong defensive unit. So, who replaces Thomas in the middle? Here are the candidates.
#98 Nick McCann 6’2” 310 lbs Sophomore
McCann served as the primary backup for Thomas last season and appeared in 10 games. He recorded 5 tackles in that time as a backup. He comes in as the lineman most likely to get the nod at nosetackle first. McCann has the size and athleticism to plug up the holes he needs to on defense. Here he is last year returning a interception for a touchdown in the spring game.
#99 Preston Gordon 6’1” 280 lbs Senior
Gordon is one of the more interesting gets of the offseason for Coach Kingsbury as Gordon is a graduate transfer from Rice. He comes in with the most college experience as he was a starter and consistent player on the interior of the defensive line. He will be coming in and looking to immediately contribute to a defense that looks to take a huge step forward this year.
#97 Joseph Wallace 6’1” 315 lbs Sophomore
Wallace was reshirted last year and was a contributing member of the scout team. I believe that he is the dark horse to take this spot later in the season. He played in 8 games his freshman year in 2016, recording 10 tackles and 1 fumble recovery that year. He has two years in this system, so he is very knowledgeable on the defensive side of the ball and won’t have a huge learning curve getting back on the field.
All of these guys are very close in terms of size and ability, so starting out the season I believe that the nosetackle position will be shared by two or even all three of these guys. By the end of the season, I think Preston Gordon will have seized this position. He has the most experience out of any of these candidates and I think his experience will ultimately be what wins the coaching staff over and gets him the majority of the snaps this season.
Who do you think will take the majority of the snaps at the nosetackle position? Let us know in the comment section below!