Spring Football Preview: Defensive Backs

This is a series of previews by position that will continue throughout the week as we approach the start of spring football at Oklahoma State on March 5.

Expect new Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman to spend the bulk of his time watching this position during the spring. While nothing official has been announced we expect Beckman to be the coach of the secondary since it is what he is used to and his defensive schemes seem to be so dependent on the disguises and performance of the secondary.

Expect Beckman to keep Joe DeForest with him to assist in the secondary since Beckman will also overall responsibilities on defense. It is also expected that Beckman will be in the pressbox during games as he appears to be a football chess player like offensive coordinator Larry Fedora who likes that overall view from upstairs.

We will also see the OSU secondary major in a different coverage this upcoming season. Last season the Cowboys predominant coverage was traditional cover two. This season you will see a wide variety of coverages employed but the secondary will likely play "quarters" more than any other. Beckman will tell you the coverages are a small part of it and the players in the coverage are the most important aspect leading to success.

The recruiting class the past two years, and the one just signed in February, were all devoted in part to developing quality depth in the secondary. It has worked at cornerback as Martel Van Zant, coming off his best season yet, is expected to start at one corner. That will be interesting as Beckman will need to get used to communicating with Van Zant and his interpreter Allie Lee. The other corner could be a huge battle as Jacob Lacy, a healthy Perrish Cox, and even Terrance Anderson could be in the mix there. Don't forget about T.J. Bell, Al'Darius Thompson and Calvin Mickens at the cornerback position.

Safety is another story where help coming in from the most recent recruiting class in the form of Texas All-State high schooler James Thomas and Arkansas athlete Adrian Moore may step in and play some right away. The starters return in senior Donovan Woods at free safety and 2007 leading tackler Andre Sexton at strong safety. Cover skills will be at a premium at the safety position, which could create some major competition.

Clint Coe is back from injury and could play at either free or strong safety. Quinton Moore is hungry for playing time and is bigger and stronger than ever. He could see some time at free safety. One of the more interesting experiments of the spring will be watching Ricky Price, who is moving from wide receiver to safety. The 6-1, 190-pound Price played corner some in high school in the same secondary with Andre Sexton. Price brings more speed to the table and will be looked at primarily at free safety.

There is also a newcomer to the secondary as Deron Fonenot is on campus and will be looked at as a strong safety. Fontenot sat out last fall with a shoulder injury but he was the first commitment in the 2006 recruiting class. He hasn't been in pads since November of 2005, but has the reputation of being a big hitter and a good tackler.

There is no question there are good athletes in the secondary, and some really dandy ones coming in for preseason camp in August. The question in spring will be how does a new set of eyes in Tim Beckman view and evaluate the group, and which players will buy in early and execute Beckman's new concepts the best? The winners get a job entering August.

2007 Spring Projected Secondary Depth Chart
7 Martel Van Zant, 6-1, 210, Sr., Tyler (Lee), Texas
23 Terrance Anderson, 6-0, 175, So., Aldine, Texas
27 Calvin Mickens, 6-2, 200, Jr., Beaumont (Ozen), Texas

Strong Safety
20 Andre Sexton, 6-1, 205, So., Houston (Cypress Falls), Texas
25 Clint Coe, 6-2, 190, Sr., Edmond (Deer Creek), Okla.
Deron Fontenot, 5-11, 195, Fr., Grand Prairie (South Grand Prairie), Texas

Free Safety
8 Donovan Woods, 6-2, 215, Sr., Oklahoma City (Millwood), Okla.
26 Quinton Moore, 5-11, 185, So., Pearland, Texas
6 Ricky Price, 6-1, 195, Jr., Houston (Cypress Falls), Texas

17 Jacob Lacey, 5-11, 180, Jr., Garland (Naaman Forest), Texas
16 Perrish Cox, 6-1, 180, So., Waco, Texas
11 T.J. Bell, 6-0, 185, Jr., DeSoto, Texas

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