Spring Preview – Defensive Backs

This is the first in a series of articles previewing each position for the spring practice sessions, which begin March 15th. The safety positions should be solid as both starters return. At cornerback, replacing All-Big East cornerback Torrie Cox will be extremely tough. The staff will also have to find a replacement for part-time starter Shawn Robinson.

Starting with the safety positions, Pitt returns both starters from last season. Redshirt sophomore Tez Morris (5-10/185) is the returning starter at free safety. Tez had a very good season last year, his first as a starter. When you consider that Tez was only a redshirt freshman and finished 2nd on the team with 119 tackles, it's all the more impressive. Former starter Corey Humphries will push Tez for playing time. Corey is a 6-2, 205lb. senior who came back from ACL surgery to see playing time the second half of last season.

Junior Tyrone Gilliard (5-11/190) is the returning starter at strong safety. He had a solid season last year but will need to take his game to the next level. Gilliard will be pushed for playing time by 5-9, 195lb. sophomore Darren McCray. Redshirt freshman Sam Bryant (6-0/205) impressed the coaches in practice last season and will also push for playing time. Bryant and freshman LB Charles Sallet (6-0/220) were probably the two most impressive freshmen that redshirted last season.

Cornerback probably rivals linebacker as the position with the most questions to be answered this spring. Senior Shawntae Spencer (6-2/175) has been a part-time starter the last three seasons and should be solid at one cornerback position. Senior William Ferguson (5-10 185) is a former starter at CB and was recently moved back to CB after playing WR for a while. Two other candidates looking to start opposite of Spencer include sophomore Josh Lay (6-2/195) and redshirt freshman Reggie Carter (6-0/190).

Junior Marcus Furman (5-8/185) was recently moved from RB/WR to cornerback and looks to make the two-deep if he isn't redshirted this season. Marcus has the speed and quickness to be a very good CB in time. Also looking to break into the two-deep is redshirt freshman Larry Moore (5-9/180).

Many questions need to be answered at cornerback. If the coaches have a few players step up at CB this spring, the secondary has the chance to be very good once again. Finding a new starter and some depth will be the toughest task.

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