Fall Camp Countdown: New Look Hard Hat D

On the eve of the start of fall practices, we take a look at the defensive side of the ball in our Fall Camp Countdown series.

The UTSA Hard Hat Defense enters fall practices with several question marks. We take a look at the various positions:

New Look Defensive Line

Known commodities DT Brian Price and DE Jason Neill will anchor down this new-look defensive line. Sophomore DE Marcus Davenport makes the leap into the starting rotation after seeing action in 11 games last season as a backup. And while Davenport showed potential, he was more of a situational substitution in 2014. This season, Davenport will look to become an every-down player at defensive end. Next to Price at the other DT position is Juco Transfer Vontrell King-Williams. Listed at 6’2” and 325lbs, King-Williams had a very good spring. His size was immediately noticed as he appears to be an extremely effective run-stuffer. Two new Junior College players (DE Ben Kane and DT Jonathan Tuiolosega) are listed on the two-deep as backups this fall. Both Kane and Tuiolosega (along with King-Williams) were early transfers, so they go to benefit from being able to participate in workouts this past spring. Senior DT Kennedy Ubabuike played well in several situations last season as a reserve. Senior DE Justyn Eddins rounds out the two-deep. The big question along the defensive line is will we see more than an eight player rotation? In 2014, UTSA used as many as 10-11 defensive linemen. Some of that was due to injury but some of that was also due to defensive line coach Eric Roark looking for a dynamic combination. Freshmen Kevin Strong, Joseph Brooks, T.J. King, King Newton, Josiah Tauaefa, and others all have the potential to jump into the fold.

Position Battle at Hawk LB

Mainstays Drew Douglas and Dalton Miller anchor down the Mike LB position. Both have played significant snaps as Roadrunners and both have proven to be solid at this position. The other LB spot is more of a question. The position battle at Hawk LB between Sophomore Marcos Curry and Juco Trasfer La’Kel Bass may be the most hotly contested competition this fall. Both Curry and Bass have similar skillsets and both are coming off very good spring campaigns. Defensive Coordinator (and LBs Coach) Neal Neathery had high praise in the spring for both Curry and Bass. With Curry seeing action in 10 games in 2014 (and starting one game), the sophomore is just ahead of the newcomer Bass. But it appears like this position battle with be neck and neck throughout fall practices.

Secondary

At the safety positions, UTSA has some young talent and depth. This biggest question headed into the fall practices is at the Rover position. Senior Mauricio Sanchez is listed as the starter with Duke Wheeler backing him up. Baylor transfer Austin Jupe is likely to crack the two-deep rotation at this position. However, Jupe was dismissed from the team after spring practices due to an unspecified violation of team rules. He was allowed to return team earlier this summer. The role Jupe plays will have an impact at Rover Safety has he is likely the most talented player on the roster at this position. UTSA is solid at the other two safety positions. One season after making the transition, Chase Dahlquist appears to be a natural at Dawg Safety. Dahlquist will backup Michael Egwuagu. A key contributor over the last two seasons, Egwuagu has cemented himself as one of the team’s leaders. The one-two combination of Egwuagu and Dahlquist at Dawg will make the Hard Hat Defense very dangerous. Sophomore Free Safety Nate Gaines steps into the role vacated by Triston Wade. Gaines played in 10 games last season while battling through a painful collar bone injury. One of the more talented players in the defensive backfield, Gaines has the potential to become an all-conference type of a player for UTSA this season. Preseason All-Conference Senior Bennett Okotcha leads the cornerback position. After him, it looks like there could be some competition. Senior Trevor Baker will start the fall as the other starting CB. But youngsters Stanely Dye and N’Keal Bailey will be pushing both seniors for playing time. Sophomore Aneas Henricks also had a good spring and will look to jump into the mix at some point this fall. With the additions of true freshmen JaColbie Butler and Jacorie Jones, the cornerback group may be one of the more talented on the roster, albeit somewhat young.


It’s a mix of old and new for the UTSA Defense. Quietly, the Roadrunners were very good defensively in 2014. With upgraded talent now mixed with a few seasoned veterans, this version of the UTSA Hard Hat D has the potential to be one of the best in Conference USA.


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