Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Spring Camp Preview: Secondary

Two of the top performers on the secondary are moving on. Who will step up this spring? BeaverBlitz breaks it down.

This spring will be big for the OSU secondary. There’s a new safeties coach in town in John Rushing. Two stalwarts from last season need replaced. And the unit could be facing an entirely different offense and pace this year if OSU switches to a pass first offense. However, what can Xavier Crawford, one of last season’s biggest surprises, do for an encore? He’ll get started this week. He’ll help lead a young unit that’s full of promise and chomping at the bit to make plays.

Key Departures

  • Treston Decoud (graduated): Started all 12 games. Recorded 58 tackles, 2 sacks, 10 pass breakups, and 12 passes defended.
  • Devin Chappell (graduated): Started 12 games. Recorded 77 tackles (6 for loss), 1 interception, 7 pass breakups, 8 passes defended, and 6 forced fumbles.
  • Kendall Hill (graduated): Played in 12 games, recorded 21 tackles.

Key Returners

  • Xavier Crawford (RS-sophomore): Started 12 games. Earned freshman All-America honors after recording 70 tackles, 10 pass breakups, and 11 passes defended.
  • Brandon Arnold (senior): Played in 12 games. Finished with 68 tackles and an interception.
  • Dwayne Williams (junior): Played in five games. Recorded 20 tackles (2 for loss) and a sack.
  • Jay Irvine (RS-sophomore): Played in four games, recorded 6 tackles.
  • Jalen Moore (sophomore): Played in 10 games, recorded 19 tackles.
  • Omar Hicks-Onu (sophomore): Played in 12 games, recorded 11 tackles.
  • Landry Payne (senior): Played in two games.
  • Christian Wallace (freshman): Rivals 4-star out of Sealy High School in Sealy, Texas. The prize of the 2016 class, he was ineligible last season.

3 Things to Watch

  1. Crawford came out of nowhere last season to become one of the top young corners in the nation. With Decoud gone, who will be the next man up for the Beavers? Will it be Williams who battled Crawford last fall? Could the highly regarded Irvine make a push? Or does he end up a safety when it’s all said and done? Williams might be a little undersized, but he’s one of the most explosive athletes on the team.
  2. Wallace was one of the marquee signings of the 2016 class and figured to push for immediate playing time, until he was found ineligible. But you know what? Maybe the timing is better for him now, as the Beavers have open spots at corner and safety. It will be interesting to see what kind of shape he’s in, and how quickly he can shake off the rust. He could be big surprise this spring.
  3. In Decoud and Chappell, the Beavers not only lost two talented defensive backs, they were emotional leaders as well. Who will step up to lead the secondary this season? This spring will provide a prime opportunity to see who emerges as the vocal and lead-by-example leaders of the unit. We’ve all seen what happens to teams when they don’t have strong leadership, so it will be important for players to take initiative and charge.

Final Take

Yes, replacing Decoud and Chappell is a tall task; the good news is the Beavers have several young players who are hungry and ready to step up in Irvine, Moore, Wallace, etc. Having half of the secondary (Crawford, Arnold) returning should help them along well. If the Beavers do move to the Air Raid, the secondary will get a nice workout this spring, adjusting to a new tempo. If at least one player steps up this spring, the secondary should be a strength again in 2017.


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