Spring Preview - Defensive Backs

Last year the Hurricanes boasted one of the nation's top defensive back units led by Thorpe finalist Sean Taylor. Gone are Taylor, Maurice Sikes, and Alfonso Marshall. Good thing Antrel Rolle decided to return for his senior year after debating whether or not to enter the NFL Draft.

Coach: Tim Walton (1st Year). Walton enters his first season as a member of the Hurricane coaching staff after being hired in January. He spent last season on the coaching staff at LSU winning a national title with Nick Saban.

Returning (10):
SR Antrel Rolle……………..(6-1, 200)……13 games-13 starts
JR Kelly Jennings…………..(6-0, 175)…….13-5
JR Greg Threat……………...(6-2, 195)……..8-3
SO Brandon Meriweather…..(6-1, 185)……..13-1
JR Marcus Maxey…………..(6-3, 200)……..13-0
JR Glenn Sharpe……………(5-11, 180)…….7-0
JR Tanard Davis……………(6-0, 185)……...4-0
SO Travarous Bain…………(6-0, 175)……...1-0
FR Willie Cooper……………(6-1, 200)……..redshirt
FR Terrell Walden………….(6-0, 160)………redshirt

Lost (3):
Sean Taylor……….77 tackles…..10 interceptions
Maurice Sikes…….51 tackles……2 interceptions
Alfonso Marshall….29 tackles……2 interceptions

Spring Depth Chart (2003 Stats)

Cornerbacks

1. Rolle………….51 tackles…2 interceptions
2. Jennings………18 tackles…0 interceptions
3. Davis……….….0 tackles…1 interception
4. Walden………..redshirt
5. Bain…………….1 tackle…0 interceptions

Safeties

1. Threat………….19 tackles…0 interceptions
2. Meriweather……22 tackles…1 interception
3. Maxey………….16 tackles…0 interceptions
4. Cooper…………redshirt

Out (1): JR Glenn Sharpe (ACL)

Player to Watch: Terrell Walden

Although the Hurricanes return just one starter, they return guys with game experience. Jennings was the full-time starting cornerback in 2002, Threat filled in this past season with spot starts, and Meriweather was the team's dime back last year.

Rolle leads the group and will be one of the best cornerbacks in the entire nation. He has great size and speed for a very physical corner. Rolle does not get beat often and if he does you take notice because it happens so rarely. He is one of 10 seniors on the Hurricane roster and will be counted on to lead the secondary next year.

Jennings will start opposite of Rolle and is a smart corner with good feet skills. He has improved his closing time and had the confidence late in the season to be on his own. Jennings came up with a lot of key deflections, but did not record an interception last year. It is something he is working on and will need to continue to work on it because of the constant attention he will receive because teams will shy away from Rolle's side of the field.

Threat has had a great off-season and his teammate have taken notice. He knows his role on the team is larger this year and is ready for the opportunity to be the starting strong safety. Threat is a great tackler and a hard-hitter despite weighing in under 200 pounds. He has the potential to have a great year next year and it all starts in spring practices.

Meriweather is another hard-hitting safety and will be the team's free safety this year. His biggest weakness has been his strength and his weight, but he has added 10 pounds and weighs 185 pounds now. Meriweather has great ball skills and he will be a playmaker for the Hurricanes in 2004.

Walden is the fastest guy on the team and has great closing speed. He redshirted last year and missed a lot of practice time with a shoulder injury. In his senior year of high school he recorded eight interceptions. Walden is in his second spring practice session and has been another guy that has been working real hard in the off-season.

Another battle on the Hurricane roster will be between the nickel and dime backs. Davis, Walden, Cooper, Maxey, and Bain will compete for the two open spots. When an additional defensive back joins the formation, Rolle will move over to play the ‘nickel' position because of his versatility while the incoming player will be a corner. The dime back will likely be a safety.

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com.

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