Secondary Coach Evaluations

Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson provides his personnel evaluations following spring drills. This evaluation appeared in the Hawgs Illustrated print issue for June, our college football preview.

Post-spring evaluations from defensive coordinator Willy Robinson:

38 Jerry Mitchell
So., 6-1, 214

There's an old story that applies here -- you have to be careful what you wish for. Jerry was at best a special teams guy last year. He might have seen the field late in the game when we had the lead. But he wasn't ever in a position where he took the reps with the first two groups. Then, all of a sudden this spring, he was thrown in there as a starter. He took his licks. The game has to be more important to him at times. He has the size, but he has to be right in his technique. When he is right there, he showed signs of top end speed. He's got to get himself in better shape and maybe lose some of that poundage to be able to play out there. We are still not settled at that position, but at least he's got enough reps where he can compete there.

23 De'Anthony Curtis
Sr., 5-9, 211

At the beginning of the spring, we wondered if we did the right thing by moving him from offense to corner. But as the spring wore on, he proved that we did. He worked hard and really bought into the position. He's not at the height you want, but he competed. The other question mark we had was about his physical play and I was taken back by the fact he wasn't afraid to throw himself in there. Most of his drawbacks right now are still learning the position. He worked extremely hard at that. He's a good student of the game. He has a great cornerback personality, actually a perfect personality. Nothing fazes him.

14 Eric Bennett
So., 5-11, 190

He played corner in the fall and we moved him to safety. It's good that we did because it's kind of a situation like when we moved Rudell Crim. But it's better for Eric for the fact that we did it at the start of the spring instead of the end of spring like we did with Rudell. He has great courage. He is a contact seeking kid. He's still working at learning the position as far as alignments. He's got good ball skills. He didn't get his hands on a lot of balls, but he was productive when he did. He was solid in his coverage aspects. He has to continue to work in the playbook so that he knows his assignments and alignments. He's very willing and productive this spring as far as the tackling aspect of his play.

9 Elton Ford
Sr., 6-0, 210

He may have had his best spring. He was put in a position to battle at that spot and I never saw him throw the white flag up. He was a lot more sound in his coverage. He was a lot quicker in his change of direction and decision making. He had full control of what was going on in front of him, behind him and outside of him. I felt it was a very physical spring. He made good decisions. That turned out to be one of our more competitive positions this spring.

27 Alan Turner
Fr., 6-0, 202

He did a great job in the offseason through our strength staff of working on his quickness, his change of direction and his speed. That stood out on our testing day as much as anything else. But when we went to the field, you didn't see that in a consistent fashion. So that tells us that he's still figuring it out, feeling his way through things. He did improve on some of the physical things that he lacked. Because of that, when a player works that hard at something then it tells us as coaches that it's meaningful. So we think he'll continue to work that way with the football part of it as well.

5 Tramain Thomas
Sr., 6-0, 198

He finished the spring out as strong as anybody. The last two scrimmages he played up to his potential. The first couple of scrimmages he didn't appear to be in shape. He wasn't focused early. But he is extremely knowledgeable in the defense. With Tramain and Jerico on the field at the time, those two can really run that back end. There is a real comfort zone with Tramain in being confident. He knows his next step is to take it to the next level. Those last two scrimmages he looked like an all-conference player. He could be one of the best in our conferences at that spot. He is an extremely willing hitter and displayed great ball skills at the end. He really worked on things as far as keying the quarterback, setting and transfer and making plays on the ball. If there was one thing he needed to improve it was the open-field tackles. He needed to improve his angles and his eyes and that's what stood out more than anything that he did. He also improved his effort in the last two scrimmages. We grade effort every play. Early in the spring, he was a culprit. The last two scrimmages he was at the top. He battled a hamstring early, but he battled and never stepped out.

22 Darrell Smith
So., 6-3, 198

He had a setback with an appendectomy. But at the end of spring he exhibited why we brought him here. He has the size, the speed. He still has to understand the little things as far as technique and reads. He does not lack courage. He's everything we want right now. He just has to be more of a student of the game. He's meaningful for him. I'm just glad he had the success at the end of spring. He had plays, breakups in the spring.

24 Daunte Carr
Fr., 6-2, 212

He was injured this spring. He was rehabbing an injury so we didn't have him on the field.

16 Ryan Farr
Jr., 6-1, 195

He was at wide receiver and we moved him to the open safety. He had some success throughout spring ball and really bought into it. He just has to overcome the spring game because we were extremely disappointed in his tackling skills. He brings ball-catching skills. He was a playmaker throughout the spring.

6 Isaac Madison
Sr., 5-11, 185

He had some setbacks during spring balls. You hope you can count on him for his senior year. He has the skills to be that corner. He has the cover skills to be the guy. Now he has to learn the difference between pain and injury and fight through it and be that consistent player day in and day out and week in and week out.

21 Darius Winston
Jr., 6-0, 185

We stacked Isaac and Darius at the same spot on the field corner side to create a competitive situation so they would push each other and get better. But because of an injury or a personal situation it never came to fruition. Darius has great skills. His work ethic needs to continue to improve, as does his focus. We never got what we wanted at that spot. We are going to continue with those two competing in the early part of camp. It's still a situation that we have to figure out which one is going to play there.

28 Greg Gatson
Sr., 5-10, 180

He had a great, quiet spring. He was at field corner as well. He is a great technician. He always had an opportunity to make a play in the past and he very rarely did. He'd be in position, but he didn't make plays. This spring, he competed. He made a lot of plays on the deep ball. He competed on the ball down the field. He made tackles. So I think with those three, there is great competition at field corner. I was very pleased with Greg.

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