1?Blaise Taylor??5’9/169 Jr.
2?Nehemiah Wagner?6’0/167 Jr.
12?Kyle Martin??5’10/180 Jr.
*22?Jamaris Hart??5’9/173 RJr
23?Niko Johnson??5’8/181 So.
24?Jeremy Smith??5’11/163 Fr.
28?Brandon Byner??5’11/173 Jr.
--?Gilbert Gildersleeve?6’0/190 Jr.
*Will miss the season due to injury
The Red Wolves led the nation in interceptions last year with 26 picks, but also were burned by the big play at times, giving up 267 yards through the air per game.
With Rocky Hayes and his team leading six interceptions gone, it will be up to a group that has talent, but little experience to back it up.
Losing Jamaris Hart to injury over the summer did little to help the position as Hart showed skill last year, particularly during the Missouri contest.
The lone man with extensive experience is Blaise Taylor. The preseason All-Conference selection as a return man has played every game since he stepped on campus in some capacity, earning a starting nod last year opposite Hayes. He makes up for his lack of size with football IQ and physicality. Taylor had one interception last year, to go with his seven passes defended and also was an asset in the run game with 26 tackles.
Most likely getting the first crack opposite Taylor, will be long junior Nehemiah Wagner. The corner they call “Long Neck”, showed development throughout the season in 2015 and saw rotationary time backing up Hayes and Taylor. Wagner picked off one pass and had three pass defenses to go with 13 tackles.
Also returning is Brandon Byner. The former running back is hoping that his move will continue to go like Rocky Hayes’ did. Byner saw time last year in some games, as well as on special teams, where he registered eight tackles.
With the position’s depth in question, the coaches brought in depth from the High School and Junior College ranks.
Jeremy Smith, a speedster from Atlanta, Texas, was signed in February and came during the Summer. He has impressed the coaches with his athletic ability and speed. For a guy who played mostly offense in high school, he has made the transition very well.
After the Hart injury, the coaches felt they needed to bring in more guys and have Kyle Martin, a quick, long corner from Dodge City Community College, who joined the team during fall camp. They also gained a commitment from Gilbert Gildersleeve III, a tall, thick corner from Orange Coast Community College in California. While Gildersleeve has yet to make it to campus, there is hope for his arrival soon.
One name that is not on the list, though he will probably see time there, is safety Chris Humes. Humes saw time at the corner spot in the Spring, and brings a physical presence that isn’t available in the other cornerbacks.
Also in the mix is Niko Johnson, a walk-on from Texas.
This position is the one with the least for sure names, and the one that will probably see a lot of guys play as the coaching staff looks for the right mix or because of the athleticism continues to rotate guys to keep them fresh.
Possible Depth Chart
Blaise Taylor??????Nehemiah Wagner
Brandon Byner??????Jeremy Smith
Kyle Martin??????Niko Johnson OR
???????Gilbert Gildersleeve III