Season Preview: Defensive Backs
Depth Chart: Emery Allen (CB), Justin Boddie (CB), Reggie Weams (SS), Derrick Hallman (FS), Darin Baldwin (CB), Josh Robinson (CB), Michael Greco (S), Jarrett Swaby (S), A.J. Bouye (CB), Kemal Ishmael (CB), Corey Ammons (CB).
Strengths: The group's athleticism is what sticks out. Boddie and Allen might be a more overall athletic than last years corner duo and that's saying a lot…Boddie is big, quick and has improved drastically this offseason…Allen is a technician and should be a reliable corner for UCF when he returns to full health…Derrick Hallman moved from OLB to safety and he looks like a natural there. He is relentless against the run and is surprisingly strong against the pass…The team has three very strong freshmen who will add depth at corner. The staff loves Robinson, but Bouye had just as good, if not a better camp than the highly-touted Robinson. Ishmael also looked solid, giving UCF fans a reason to be confident in what was thought to be the team's weakest position…Weams has matured some and looks to be a decent fit at strong safety…Baldwin provides depth and versatility as a nickel back type who can also lineup on the edge…Greco continues to impress in his transition from quarterback and will give the team some depth.
Weaknesses: The lack of starting experience hurts. This unit might have talent, but it will undoubtedly go through growing pains. How many lumps the DBs take will determine how good the defense in general will be…Allen hasn't participated much since the spring and will need to shake off some rust…Baldwin looks good, but he must come up with more big plays. He put himself in a position to make them this summer but didn't always finish…Hallman honestly looks great at safety and will be a leader, but how will he handle speedsters on a consistent basis? The same goes for Weams…Bouye might be ready to start now or at least play some at nickel back, but he'll have to unseat the more experienced Baldwin or Robinson, who has been at UCF through the spring. The overall depth at safety isn't great. Greco looks decent, as does Swaby, but if either Hallman or Weams goes down for an extended period of time, things could get ugly.
Overall: UCF will get a big challenge against Southern Miss in early September. Austin Davis may not have a fully healthy DeAndre Brown to throw to (although he's making progress), but Davis still has plenty of weapons. If UCF's young defensive backs can hold tight there, they might be good to go for the rest of the year. Hallman might be an upgrade over Jason Venson at free safety and Allen and/or Baldwin could be better than Johnell Neal. It will be tough to replace the likes of Joe Burnett or Sha'reff Rashad, but this group should get by with pure athleticism.
Prediction: These defensive backs have some experience but will now be relied through the entire game. If they get some confidence early on, they will be solid through the year. The depth amongst the corners is nice and the Knights should have some younger players really step up.
Season Preview: Defensive Backs
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