Secondary Position Preview
2013 Recap: In 2013, the secondary struggled mightily against the pass, giving up 33.3 points a game and giving up an average of 271 yards per game in the air. Numerous times SMU's starting DBs got beat deep, and constantly opponent's offenses extended drives by converting on 3rd and 4th down.
The Mustangs' bright spot in the secondary was Hayden Greenbauer who recorded 40 tackles before suffering a season-ending ACL tear in game six. While the loss of Greenbauer was unfortunate, Shakiel Randolph was forced to step into a starting role and he gained valuable experience. The secondary also did an adequate job of stepping up against the run. Corner Jay Scott led all secondary members with 63 tackles, good enough for fourth on the team.
Greenbauer will be the leader in the secondary with the departures of three 2013 starters.
2014 Outlook: With the likely return of Hayden Greenbauer from injury, and the departures of Jay Scott, Kenneth Acker and Chris Parks, SMU's 2014 secondary will have a nice, new mixture of youth and veteran presence.
After gaining some experience towards the end of last season, sophomores Horace Richardson and Darrion Richardson will likely get the nods to take over at left corner and strong safety, respectively. At right corner, junior J.R. Richardson should be penciled in to start the season, but don't be surprised if sophomore Ajee Montes gets a chance to prove himself.
The key for this position group will be keeping their receivers in front of them and preventing the big plays. SMU's secondary is big, and can be physical, but when third and fourth down roll around, the Mustangs can't play hesitantly and allow opponent's drive to continue.
Ajee Montes can make an impact at nickel or as a starter with his aggressive style.
Unknown to Watch: Just a sophomore, California native Ajee Montes made a strong push for playing time last year as redshirt freshman and will battle J.R. Richardson for the starting spot in 2014. Montes is very aggressive, and the 5-11, 187-pound corner does not shy away from contact. He also has shown good instincts and speed. If Richardson slips up, Montes will get the call to take over.
Star of the Group: Before missing the final six games of the season due to injury, senior safety Hayden Greenbauer was on pace to lead the secondary in tackles. As long as Greenbauer comes back healthy, he will step back into the starting line up and likely be the most consistent defensive back on the field. Greenbauer's mixture of speed and tackling ability will allow him to take risks in order to make big plays. As a former quarterback, Greenbauer also does a good job of diagnosing plays early.
PonyStampede Depth Chart:
1. #9 Horace Richardson 2. #20 A.J. Justice
1. #29 Darrion Richardson 2. #27 Myles Crosby
1. #22 Hayden Greenbauer 2. #28 Shakiel Randolph
1. #24 J.R. Richardson 2. #10 Ajee Montes