Billy: Collin Rock
The quarterback? Yes. I think Rock will turn into a mainstay at safety for SMU. Just in his time at camp this summer, the staff came away raving about his playmaking ability and how he flew around. With more attention to his technique as a defensive back, I think Rock will be a star at safety. He’s got that high football IQ from being a quarterback and is a tough kid. Put some more weight on him and he’ll be a great leader and playmaker for the SMU secondary.
Scott: Mikial Onu
This new group of defensive backs has tons of talent, but Onu’s instincts stand out amongst the rest. Onu is a competitor. He’s physical with receivers off of the line of scrimmage, and if a ball is thrown in his direction, his athleticism allows him to make a play on it. He has good overall speed, which helps him stick with the receivers, and his aggression makes him a good open-field tackler. Onu also has tons of experience playing special teams, which helps with his overall tackling and will allow him to see early playing time even if it isn’t immediately in the secondary.
Hatts: Mikial Onu
One of the reasons SMU’s defense has struggled the past couple of years is their inability to force turnovers. It won’t take long for Onu to fix this problem. Onu is a turnover machine, with a number of those interceptions returned for touchdowns. Onu has some size at 6 foot and also pretty good speed with 4.48 40-time. This helps Onu close on the ball well but he also has a pretty good knack for playing the ball in the air.
Demo: Eric Sutton
I think that Mikial Onu is really good, but in terms of best DB, I think Eric Sutton is the best—mostly because he is a true DB. Onu is kind of a hybrid. Sutton can flat out cover. His one weakness is that he sometimes give ups inside position, but he’s been fast enough to make up for that. Some of it may be that he actually made a mistake or he’s baiting the QB to make that throw. Either way, he’s been able to avoid danger by simply being more athletic. I see no reason why that can’t be fixed with some solid coaching from the SMU staff. His athleticism, coupled with his instincts make him very capable defensive back.
Patrick: Christian Davis
I like the entire group of defensive backs that SMU signed, and I think all deserve at least a shot in fall camp. But I think many underappreciate Davis. He is primarily a cornerback, but I think he could play safety if asked. When in press or lined up closer to the line of scrimmage, he can be a little slow to get his hips turned around, but he both closes on and tracks the ball well thanks to good body control. Athleticism-wise, he’s solid, but not elite. I think he’s a solid tackler too. He wraps up consistently and avoids arm tackles. He will probably need a little weight on his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame if he will seriously challenge for playing time his freshman year, but he has the entire summer to do so. I think Davis will be as good as any of the other defensive backs when this class leaves.