After heartbreaking news that projected starter J.R. Richardson tore his ACL in practice before the season began, the SMU secondary was left without many cornerbacks with starting experience, and turned to Chris Parks to fill in for Richardson. Parks got off to a rough start, getting consistently torched by opposing offenses early on in the season. Baylor, Texas A&M and TCU all picked on Parks early on, and SMU was forced to continue to play Parks due to their lack of depth behind him. But as the season progressed, so did Parks, and no longer did teams solely pick on him. Opposite Parks was returning starter Kenneth Acker, who played great all season while guarding the opposing teams ace receiver and really provided a sense of stability opposite Parks.
Another blow to the SMU secondary was when senior Ryan Smith went down with a season-ending injury against TCU. Up to that point, Smith had been the vocal leader of the defense and was relied on heavily in the secondary. Freshman Shakiel Randolph filled in for Smith admirably, totaling 17 tackles. The freshman showed flashes of brilliance at times but lacked consistency and was out of place a few plays a game. That led to walk-on Brett Haness getting some time, but he was also lost due to injury. Junior Jay Scott provided stability throughout the season from the other safety spot, and both players will be a big part of the secondary next year.
The SMU secondary will lose only Ryan Smith to graduation, and will be returning Jay Scott, Kenneth Acker, Shakiel Randolph, Chris Parks and if rehab goes well, J.R. Richardson. As the SMU front seven loses a lot of experience, the secondary will be looked upon as a strength next year, and will be relied upon heavily against a tough non-conference schedule next year. If Richardson can come back healthy, and Randolph can continue to improve, look for great things next year out of the SMU secondary, that helped SMU force 19 interceptions this year, tied for 6th in the NCAA.
2011 Grade: B-
Position Review: Defensive Backs
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