BCI Confidence Rating: Defensive Backs

As the Bearcats get ready to head into preseason camp Bearcat Insider gets ready for its fifth year of watching the team get ready for another exciting season of Big East football. So how much confidence do we have in the defensive backs?

Pressing Question: Who steps up and fills the shoes of Mike Mickens, DeAngelo Smith and Brandon Underwood? While there were losses to all parts of the defense the defensive backs were hit the hardest as all three of these players are in NFL camps and expected to make rosters. Underwood may be the easiest one to replace as he was only here for the one season. But Mickens and Smith were long time starters and major parts of the success of the defense the past few years. The battles will be intense and with the talent there could be a surprise at some point.

Breakdown: We know what Aaron Webster is all about and also know he'll have a chance to also find his way to the NFL if he enjoys a solid senior season. Drew Frey has been knocking on the door since coming to campus but injuries have stopped him from showing how much talent he has.

Backing up at safety early will be Quincy Quetant and Pat Lambert. Both have bright futures and will push for playing time. Another player who will be one to watch early is Will Saddler. The Indiana native has fought injuries but is a big body with athletic skills. Can Saddler stay healthy and does he keep the size to play the position or does he grow into a linebacker?

Camp will open with Brad Jones and Marcus Barnett penciled as the starters at corner. But make no mistake there is talent behind these two as Camerron Cheatham had a great spring and Dominique Battle is a major talent waiting to explode on the scene.

Another player I fully expect to be pushing hard is Reuben Johnson. This kid is a major talent and one who should be expected to push to get time on the field. Not only is Johnson a major talent but he‘ll be joined in camp by the likes of Chris Williams and Romel Dismuke.

There are a few others who'll be interesting to watch as they show great athletic skills but must translate that over to the field.

The Big If: Does the Marcus Barnett story have a happy ending? Barnett showed well in spring ball but this is the main stage. A great athlete and one who can go up and get the ball at the highest point over a receiver gives the former wide receiver an edge. But does he have the strength to jam at the line? He'll be tested early and often until he proves he can cover and make plays.

Our Call: The talent level here is one that Bearcat Insider really likes. Not only is there talent for this season but for the seasons ahead. Will there be some growing pains? Yes, but only a few. Kerry Coombs is a great coach and players respond to him very well. He'll push them hard in early camp and those who are strongest will get the call. Don't be surprised if Jones or Barnett struggle early the staff will make a quick move and one that will last.

Confidence Rating: I really like what I see here and will give this group a solid 7 rating. There is no question there is talent in the Bearcats defensive backfield waiting to show itself. Teams will push hard early but will find a tough and stingy group looking to make plays.

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