Akina Talks Young DBs

When Texas prepared for the 2011 season, one of the positions most fans were concerned with was the young group of defensive backs.

But defensive backs coach Duane Akina said all along that he liked his group of guys, and he likes them even more now that Carrington Byndom has emerged as a potential star.

"Carrington is really playing well this year," Akina said. "He's been a pleasant surprise. I knew he was going to be a good player, but he's really ahead of schedule, much more physical. As you know him, he's a very nice, good natured guy and he's kind of moved to where his personality is changing now on the field. I think that's confidence with him getting stronger in the weight room, I think Bennie [Wylie] and the strength staff have done a good job in helping his confidence.

"He's really just seeing the game," Akina said. "He's an outstanding athlete and now the game is really beginning to slow down. All those reps are starting to catch up. He's drawn some really tough assignments. He really played [OSU WR Justin] Blackmon well last week and that was all part of it because we knew where Blackmon was going to align and we wanted Carrington at the point of attack and put a lot of pressure on Kenny Vaccaro. Kenny was in a one-on-one situation in the slot quite a bit and having the whole field. Those guys really showed up and did a great job."

But while the Longhorns have a positive in Byndom, a negative has to come from the injury to versatile defensive back Adrian Phillips. Akina said his absence would be filled by multiple players.

"I think we're at a point now, mid-season, all the four freshman have been playing," Akina said. "They have found, not only time in-game, but we're giving them a lot practice reps and they're working against outstanding players. I am good to go with all of them. I color code them all. They're all green, or ready to go if anything happens.

"We also build enough position flexibility where Kenny can play nickel, he can play safety, he can play corner if he needs to," Akina said. "Christian [Scott] can play dime, nickel, he also has the ability to play safety. Blake [Gideon] is a nickel, a dime, a field boundary safety. We're also drilling Carrington in nickel. It's a way for them to learn the whole concept of the defense so if that day ever comes where they have an opportunity at the combine to talk football with [New England Patriots head coach] Bill Belichick, it's a way for them to also learn the total package, but it also gives us position flexibility."

And Akina said he felt like he had two more strong players in Josh Turner and Mykkele Thompson.

"They're both ready to play," Akina said. "They're just playing behind some really good players right now. Much like when Kenny got here he was playing behind Earl Thomas and Earl was playing behind Michael Huff and Michael Griffin, so there is a natural progression that goes through it. I think it's good for them to learn from really good players in front of them and when it is their time, they're ready to step right in. Much like Carrington learned from three outstanding corners, all of them still playing in the NFL.

"They've had a lot of reps," Akina said. "Where they have benefited is that they have been able to come right into the depth chart right away. Since the summer time [and] two-a-days they were second team. So they have had a lot of exposure, a lot of experience and I guess you could equate the number of reps they have had as true freshman. It would probably add to that of a sophomore."

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