Spring practice preview: defensive backfield

There are plenty of question marks surrounding the defensive backfield this spring, as most every position will feature wide-open competition with no firmly entrenched starter. It's sure to be one of the position groups we'll be watching most intently as they begin the process to sort out their two-deep roster during the spring practice session.

BYU lost three of the better defensive backs one will see at BYU in Andrew Rich, Brian Logan and Brandon Bradley. Replacing them will certainly be an arduous task, but the cupboard is hardly bare, as there looks to be some very good talent ready to make their bids for the starting spots this spring.

The Given

The most proven player returning for the Cougars in the secondary will be Corby Eason (5-8, 172 Sr.). Eason split time with Bradley at boundary corner last season and will undoubtedly take over as the starter this upcoming season. He'll have to sit out this spring session, however, due to offseason surgery.

Travis Uale (6-2, 197 Sr.) manned the thankless free safety spot for most of last season and really saw improvement as the season wore on. He's serviceable, but it remains to be seen if he can hold on to his spot as a starter.

The Intrigue

Most of the intrigue this spring revolves around who will be replacing Rich at the strong safety or Kat position. The top candidate looks to be Jray Galeai (6-0, 179 So.), who will finally get his opportunity to start after high initial expectations regarding his prospects.

He's sure to have some stiff competition, however, from Daniel Sorensen (6-2, 200 So.), who is back from his mission service after playing a significant role within the defense as a true freshman. He's been working out as a safety after logging time as an outside linebacker before his mission, and should be one of the top candidates to man the starting role this coming season.

It's not clear what other players will be competing for the starting Kat spot, but don't be surprised if DeQuan Everett (6-3, 200 Jr.) is switched over from cornerback to compete for the starting spot. Everett presents a big and physical presence across that middle of the field that is very good at closing on the football.

Carter Mees (6-0, 195 Jr.) will certainly warrant a lot of attention this spring, as he very well could have ended last season as BYU's starting free safety if he hadn't gone down with injury. He may be tried at either safety spot and will certainly be one of the top candidates to break the two-deep roster, if not start this coming season.

Ryan Comer (6-1, 205 Jr.) is a prized walk-on from the junior college ranks that could very well be BYU's starting strong safety next season. Coaches generally look for junior college transfers to contribute immediately, and that could certainly be the case with him.

Preston Hadley (6-0, 200 Jr.) is another junior college transfer that could end up filling in at either strong or free safety, although he's been logging most of his offseason workout time at boundary corner. Hadley has impressed everyone this offseason with his work ethic and overall abilities.

Dallin Olestra (6-1, 175 Jr.) is someone who showed well during practice sessions last year and could be in the mix at boundary corner or at either safety position.

The other intriguing battle that is brewing is the one for the starting field corner position. Brian Logan will not be easy to replace, but there are some good candidates to do so nevertheless.

Robbie Buckner (5-10, 175 Jr.) will likely get the first work with the first-team and could very well stay there during the season. Buckner has shown to have all the tools necessary to play an effective starting role, but it remains to be seen if he's the best option at field corner for the 2011 season.

His main competition will likely come from Jordan Johnson (5-10, 175 Fr.), who was a standout on the scout team last year as a true freshman. Johnson has received consistent raves from his teammates and should end up on the two-deep roster at either field corner or another defensive back position.

Kori Gaines (5-8, 162 Fr.) stood out on the scout team last season as well, and will vie for a spot at either boundary corner or one of the two safety positions. Cameron Comer (6-0, 189 Fr.) is another name to watch out for, as he's back from his mission after showing well as a true freshman.

Others that look to battle at any of the four defensive back positions include Brad Beeston (5-11, 175 Fr.), Landon Fowler (5-10, 178 Jr.), Cole Hermann (6-0, 186 Fr.), Mitchell Juergens (5-10, 180 Fr.), Greg May (5-11, 200 Fr.), Chase Pendley (6-2, 210 So.), Skye Povey (6-0, 180 So.) and Jake Weber (5-10, 170 Fr.).

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