A Look at the Defensive Backs

Since 2005, one of the most common complaints coming out of the mouths of Marshall football fans was that the defensive backs were giving too much of a cushion. Game in and game out opposing offenses would pick their way down the field with eight to twelve yard out passes. Extending drives on third down, and ultimately putting up just enough points to keep the Herd at Bay.

Each season the Head Coach, whether it be Doc Holliday or former leader Mark Snyder, would say they just didn't have the talent there yet to play a more aggressive pass coverage. The times may be changing. Personnel is no longer the issue, this is now a new common quote coming from our football leaders. That is never more evident than at the defensive back position.

Following last season, Marshall lost a playmaker from the defensive backfield, in Rashad Jackson. Jackson had an excellent season in always seeming to be where the ball was. His fellow starters were young sophomores Monterius Lovett and Darryl Roberts. By the end of the season, Roberts was starting to really make a case for being the next good defensive player for the Herd.

In 1985, current offensive coordinator Tony Petersen rolled out on the last play of the game in Louisville, and heaved a desperation hail mary pass. The ball found its way into the hands of a Marshall receiver in the back of the end zone to give the Herd the win. The receiver was Keith Baxter. Fast forward 27 years, and Herd fans should see a lot of his son, Keith Baxter, who very well could become a starter at one of the defensive back positions. Baxter is one of the fast players on the team and is bigger and stronger than both Lovett and Roberts. In my opinion, Baxter will wrap up one of the spots early on in camp.

The other spot is up in the air. Going into camp it appeared that Darryl Roberts would man the position, however, rumored injury could keep him on the sidelines for a few weeks, which should open up a spot for one of the highest rated recruits in Marshall history. A.J. Leggett. Leggett is an excellent athlete from the state of Florida. He picked the Herd over a late push by Tennessee.

Others who will make a push for playing time are redshirt freshman Corie Wilson, and Boston College transfer Dominick LeGrande. Someone will also have to man the nickel position.

The loss of returning part time starter Phillip Warren could hurt. Warren played very well late in the season. His speed and tenacity will be tough to replace. The only other scholarship defensive backs on the roster at this time is Deontae West. West will be a true freshman, but he did grey shirt and was here for spring camp.

There are two recruits coming in, Andre Scott and Shawn Samuels. Samuels is the player that I see stepping in immediately and playing. He is tall, at 6'1", and very fast. When paired with Baxter and/or Leggett, that would make a tall defensive backfield.

Below is my projected depth chart:

1. AJ Leggett and Keith Baxter 2. Shawn Samuels and Monterius Lovett 3. Corie Wilson and Deontae Scott

This of course will all be turned around if Roberts is in fact healthy enough to play. I have Leggett starting, but would not be surprised to see Samuels move his way in there and take the job, leaving the second team guy and LeGrande to battle for the nickel position.

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates.

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