Returning Players: Jordan Wyatt (SO-HS), Darrion Richardson (JR-1L), Shakiel Randolph (SR-2L), Jesse Montgomery (SO-RS), Troy Castle (SR-1L ), Horace Richardson (JR-1L), A.J. Justice (JR-SQ) , Ajee Montes (JR-1L), William Jeanlys (SO-HS), Raul Reyes III (SO-HS), Robert Seals.
One thing you may already know about me: I hate beating a dead horse. So I’m not going to talk about how bad we were as a team, or how bad the defensive backs were. I’m just going to give you some stats. Last season the defense gave up 3164 yards in the air alone at 8.7 yards per pass and 13.8 yards per catch. They gave up 263.7 yards per game and 27 passing touchdowns. I’d say there is room for improvement.
SMU will be carrying four less DBs this season and putting an extra one on the field. Shakiel Randolph will be playing the Star position, giving the Mustangs a base look with five DB. That means the play from the position will be that much more important. With Randolph and Kyran Mitchell and Anthony Rhone stepping up behind him, it could allow Jordon Williams to slowly develop instead of being forced to play right away.
There were a lot of injuries in the secondary last season and despite having a lot of DB’s on the roster, they seemed very thin at the position. This year a lot of the young guys that were used sparingly will have the opportunity to compete for starting jobs and ample playing time.
You got to think Horace Richardson and Ajee Montes have the outside corner spots locked up. Ajee has always been a solid corner—albeit he is much better at the nickel. If Will Jeanlys or Jesse Montgomery can overtake him, the defense would be better off. Montgomery and Jeanlys are much longer and athletic corners. AJ Justice was part of a four man rotation at safety last season, look for him and Darrion Richardson to be mainstays deep in the secondary. And we’ve already talked about Randolph at the star.
I was really big on Jeanlys and Montgomery last season. They were simply too young to contribute a great deal. Montgomery can jump out of the building, and Jeanlys is long, lanky and a pesky defender. Both can be effective but they need to earn their spots first. Jeanlys also showed in the spring to be an adequate defensive back and showed signs of developing. The offseason program should do him wonders. David Johnson has some big-time SEC experience and could provide a lot of leadership on the backend as a nickel or even push to be a starter. He's physically ready to roll in the secondary for a unit that has been torched the past couple years.
The Unknown With a solid group of veterans, it’s hard to see where the incoming freshman fit. Kevin Johnson has some tremendous speed, but is his body ready for immediate playing time? Rodney Clemons could certainly provide depth at safety too, but it's too early to tell if he can unseat one of the incumbents. David Johnson, the transfer from Missouri is still a little bit of an unknown since he's transferring in, but Van Malone will find a spot for him immediately in my mind.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART vs. Baylor:
LCB: Ajee Montes, Jesse Montogmery, Kevin Johnson
Star: Shakiel Randolph, Kyran Mitchell, Jordon Williams
FS: AJ Jusice, Troy Castle
SS: Darrion Richardson, Rodney Clemons
RCB: Horace Richardson, David Johnson, Will Jeanlys