Mark Foltz - AStateNation

Previewing Arkansas State Red Wolves nickel position

Preview the nickels




8?Ben Sukut??6’1/208 Fr.

10?Justin Clifton??6’0/206 Fr.

26?Trent Ellis-Brewer?6’2/212 Fr.

34?Paul Swanson??6’1/216?Sr.


By the end of last season, Arkansas State was moving linebackers out to their nickel position due to injuries to Charleston Girley and Justin Clifton.

Girley has graduated and is now a graduate assistant for the team, and Clifton has returned from his shoulder injury.

Girley takes 38 tackles with him to his new position, while Clifton had 29 tackles, including two sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown in the big, come from behind win over South Alabama. 

Joining Clifton at the position is Paul Swanson, who last year registered three tackles. Swanson played safety and linebacker at Orange Coast Community College in 2014, and his familiarity with playing coverage has eased his transition. Swanson will also see work on special teams.

After seeing the issues caused by lack of depth, the coaches signed two freshmen who originally were supposed to help at other positions.

Ben Sukut was going to work at safety, but gained almost 20 pounds of muscle during the summer, while Trent Ellis-Brewer began fall camp at linebacker, but moved so well that the coaches moved him out to the nickel position where he shined in the first scrimmage of fall. Both players have been lauded for their ability and comprehension of the defense and will definitely see the field on special teams.

Another who is not on the list of available players is senior Xavier Woodson-Luster. The second leading tackler from last year’s defensive unit, Woodson-Luster was moved in the Springto shore up the depth at the position and with his athleticism, makes sense in the role. It may not be a permanent move, but don’t be surprised to see number 55 out there at the nickel.

This position is still fairly thin, but the quality of athlete here is not in question. This group will put athletes on the field that will give the Red Wolf fans some jaw dropping moments this fall.


Possible Depth Chart


1) Justin Clifton
2) Trent Ellis-Brewer
3) Ben Sukut
4) Paul Swanson