Insiders Pre-Camp Look – Defensive Backs

Why not start with the strength of the Bearcats for the 2008 season the defensive backs. With an All-American in the lineup and another player capable of being one, this is an area that shouldn't concern Bearcat fans. Or should it? Let's take a look.

Mike Mickens went from a non-ranked two offer prospect to All-American by his true junior season. The experts missed big time on this future NFL player who made the choice to return for his senior season after looking to turn pro. Bearcat fans are thankful and should be rewarded with another fine season from the Huber Heights (OH) Wayne product.

Joining in the fun will be fellow senior DeAngelo Smith who last season showed why he can stand on his own and out of the shadow of his counterpart Mickens. The pair complements each other well and gives the Bearcats two of the best corners in the country.

Brandon Underwood has been watching from the sidelines since his transfer from Ohio State. The talented Hamilton High product showed signs of what should be expected this spring and gives the Bearcats defensive staff the option to place him on the field with Mickens and Smith.

Much has been said about the graduation loss of team leader Haruki Nakamura as well it should. The game goes on and someone will have to stand up and be accounted for if the defensive back unit it to maintain its quality of play.

Brad Jones and Cedric Tolbert have been waiting their turn with playing time the past couple of years. It's now their job to lose when camp opens and with several young players standing behind them the competition should be fierce.

Jones started to show signs he was getting a feel for the college game last season while Tolbert saw career highs as an extra defender in passing situations.

The senior from Xenia, Ohio is battle tested and will look to have a breakout senior campaign keeping the young Bearcats at bay.

Both Jones and Tolbert know the clock is ticking and the young players that have entered the program are looking to earn their chance to take the field and leave the veterans behind.

Drew Frey is one who looks to be on the fast track after having a set back as a true freshman from a shoulder injury. The Clinton Massie High School product has size and speed but must keep learning the system and keep from getting injured.

Aaron Webster is another player who should be ready for a breakout year. The Birmingham Groves Michigan product showed signs of pushing the veterans with his play as a freshman before suffering a knee injury before the team's appearance in the International Bowl.

Last season fans did not see the same production and big things must be expected this fall for him to keep his place in the rotation.

As for the youngsters on the roster you hope to give them time as needed and redshirt those who have the most value long-term.

But questions must be raised if injury would take down the Bearcats main weapons this fall. Inexperience is heavy on the roster at these positions due more to the great play of the seniors the past three seasons.

The Bearcats defensive secondary is one of the best in college football when all weapons are firing. They'll be tested early and often as teams look to go after the team's perceived defensive weakness the defensive front.

Bearcat Insider Top Stories