Returning: Troy Castle (RS. Jr.), Myles Crosby (RS. Fr.), Hayden Greenbauer (RS. Sr.), Rodney Hubert (RS. Jr.), A.J. Justice (RS. Soph.), Ty Law (Soph.), Ajee Montes (RS. Soph), Jesse Montgomery (RS. Fr.), Blake Poston (RS. Jr.), Shakiel Randolph (Jr.), Darrion Richardson (Soph.), Horace Richardson (RS. Soph), J.R. Richardson (RS. Jr.), Adam Waheed (RS. Sr.) and Trey Washington (RS. Fr).
Coming in: Nate Gaines, Jordan Wyatt and William Jeanlys
Leaving: Kenneth Acker, Jeremy Gray, Chris Parks, Daniel Roundtree and Jay Scott.
2013 Takeaways: The SMU secondary was downright terrible this season, ranking 113th in the country and giving up over 271 yards passing per game. The secondary only notched eight interceptions on the year with five of those coming from Acker and Scott so there is a big drop-off in production in the turnover department for SMU next season. Acker was a leader on the team and the best defensive back the team had, but his partner, Chris Parks, was below par for SMU. Parks was constantly targeted and struggled against receivers even with his 6-foot-1 frame that allowed him to matchup against the bigger receivers. Overall, SMU loses a fair amount of experience from this year's secondary, but Acker's leadership and playmaking ability will be sorely missed.
2014 Outlook: J.R. Richardson returns as the most talented player in the secondary and one of the more experienced, but he had a tough 2013 campaign with only two pass breakups, seven tackles and zero interceptions as he bounced back from a torn ACL. Maybe it was Richardson still getting comfortable with his knee and Acker and Parks stepping up, but Richardson should be a big part of the 2014 secondary.
Ajee Montes is another talented player, who did not start, but did play in all 12 games for SMU this season. Montes is talked about by a fair amount of players as a player who everyone is waiting on to break out and this season should be his coming out party.
Horace Richardson at nickel is a player who tore his ACL against Texas A&M two years ago and saw playing time in 2013 after recovering from the injury. While he did not play in the final three games this year, he is poised to break out as well and could be a solid nickel option.
At safety, SMU has a good amount of experience with redshirt senior Hayden Greenbauer and junior Shakiel Randolph as well as talented players Darrion Richardson and Myles Crosby ready to earn playing time. While Greenbauer will be a question mark until he fully returns from his ACL tear, he is a smart player and is a great student of the game, which is why he will surprise a lot of people when he returns to form from the injury.
Randolph will have to hold off Richardson and Crosby for the other safety position and ultimately, Richardson's talent and likely progress he will make over the offseason will allow him to take the starting spot from Randolph. Randolph has the size over Richardson at the moment at 6-foot-3, but Richardson will fill out his 6-foot frame with a full offseason in the SMU weight room. Crosby still needs a little more time to develop before stepping in for either Randolph or Richardson.
Bold Prediction: Hayden Greenbauer will make a postseason All-AAC team list as a safety and Darrion Richardson overtakes Shakiel Randolph at the other safety position.
Projected Depth Chart
CB1. J.R. Richardson
CB2. Ajee Montes
CB3. Horace Richardson
CB4. Ty Law
CB5. Rodney Hubert
S1. Hayden Greenbauer
S2. Darrion Richardson
S3. Shakiel Randolph
S4. Myles Crosby
An Early Look At 2014: Defensive Backs
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