WDE1: Michael Badejo
WDE2: Delontae Scott
Freshman Michael Badejo ended up working his way into a lot of playing time last year for the most part as a true freshman and with that continued development, we project Badejo to overtake Scott on the starting depth chart. Badejo had a solid spring and we expect him to have another big summer in the weight room. While it'll be a rotation and Scott will still see time, Badejo is a good bet to be someone that can overtake an older player for a spot.
DT1: Chris Biggurs
DT2: Demerick Gary
SMU has plenty of versatile defensive lineman and this is a great example. With Demerick Gary getting bigger in the spring and that will continue in the summer, he's been playing more inside this spring, Mason Gentry told Scout. While Gary can still pop outside to defensive end, his speed and pass rushing skills inside would be a welcome addition opposite of Gentry and pairing with J.T. Williams and Chris Biggurs. Biggurs has had a great spring, Morris said and is a bigger body in the middle. SMU has options based on what they need. The Mustangs' need pass rushing so still expect a good mix of Gary.
NT1: Mason Gentry
NT2: JT Williams
The two seniors at nose tackle for SMU are both coming off solid springs again for Buddy Wyatt's unit. Gentry is the starter and Williams is still pushing for time, but after a disappointing first season in Dallas, it appears he's ready for a bigger role. Ken McLaurin and Pat Jones continue to need more development before pushing the two-deep at either of the defensive tackle spots.
SDE1: Justin Lawler
SDE2: Hunter Thedford/Nick Horton
This is kind of a no-brainer as Justin Lawler is one of the top players for SMU on defense and has proven it time and again. One of the leaders on the team, expect Lawler to anchor this unit. While Hunter Thedford finally looks ready to compete physically, it's another position that could see a guy like Gary slide outside if SMU wanted a different look. Senior Nick Horton can be worked at both weak side and strong side so he'll be one to watch push Thedford for time as he comes off injury.
Will1: Matt McNew
Will2: Myles Duke
The linebacker position right now for SMU is one of the hardest to project. There's a lot of new bodies in there, injuries have played paramount and players that have changed physically. With Matt McNew returning and Jackson Mitchell departing, it seems like McNew will at least have a shot to start. Myles Duke sat out the spring game, but his weight is up and that leads me to believe he'll see time at the Will. Who else will slide inside for SMU? It's a mystery for the most part.
Mike1: Anthony Rhone
Mike 2: Jordan Ward/Noah Spears
Rhone is a returning starter and will be pushing by Jordan Ward and Noah Spears is our best guess. New linebacker Jordan Carmouche hasn't been able to work in yet as he's been injured, but if he gets his body right and learns the position quickly, he might be able to provide some playmaking ability.
Star1: Kyran Mitchell/Elijah McQueen
Star2: RC Cox/Jordon Williams
Early enrollee Elijah McQueen "starred" at the Star this spring and got on the field early because of it. Will he play there this fall? That's another story. He certainly looks the part and might have already grown out of the safety position. If he's not at safety, there's officially a log jam at the Star position. Kyran Mitchell though is the one to watch here for the starting spot as he continues to develop in that spot, which is a more natural position than true linebacker, but McQueen might have made enough noise to start. Jordon Williams also had his best spring at SMU at the position.
FCB1: Eric Sutton
FCB2: Will Jeanlys
One of the elder statesman in the secondary might be William Jeanlys, but it's Eric Sutton that could very well end up getting the starting spot come Game 1 with his continued development. Sutton played on special teams last season behind Horace Richardson last year and is one of the fastest players on the team. With that speed and SMU in need of some playmaking, Sutton could be a good bet to start over Jeanlys at field cornerback. Jeanlys was at No. 2 before going down with an injury so the battle between him and Sutton should be fun to watch.
SS1: Mikial Onu
SS2: Michael Clark/Collin Rock
Sophomore Mikial Onu sat behind the leader of the secondary Darrion Millines last year and played at times. This spring, Onu got a lot better on the backend after struggling to adjust with the speed of college football at times. The experience last year was huge for Onu though and he'll be the clear cut starter heading into camp with Collin Rock and Michael Clark working in. Clark was out for the spring recovering from surgery.
FS1: Rodney Clemons
FS2: Kevin Johnson
The same two return at free safety for SMU in Rodney Clemons and Kevin Johnson, who are going to be leaned on big time with Onu stepping in for the first time as a starter. SMU is looking for improvement out of both and leadership as Millines has left a big void of that.
BCB1: Jordan Wyatt
BCB2: Christian Davis
The team's leader in interceptions last season, Jordan Wyatt returns to the secondary and will be expected to step up even more for SMU. Wyatt had a great spring for SMU and Sutton said that it's clear he continues to get better, which is big for SMU. While Christian Davis worked some at safety this spring, he'll settle into his natural position at boundary cornerback and be leaned on to make plays when Wyatt comes out.