Spring Position Outlook - DBs

We continued our Spring Position Outlook on Wednesday with a look at a group of linebackers that, if healthy, could produce several all-conference performers.

Today we'll look at a position that has notoriously been one of the programs strongest, but that will have to find new starters at a couple of key positions in 2014.


Defensive backs

Who is gone?

Carrington Byndom, Leroy Scott, Adrian Phillips

Byndom started every game from his sophomore season on, and did so well enough as a senior to earn a second team All-Big 12 selection by the coaches. He was second on the team with 45 solo tackles and in pass breakups (7).

Phillips started in 28 games over his career and made his senior year his best, too, by finishing second on the team with 82 tackles and first in solo stops (50). He was voted on of four team captains and was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection (coaches).

Scott was dismissed by Charlie Strong for a violation of team rules prior to the beginning of spring practice.

Who is on campus?

Bryson Echols, Duke Thomas, Antwuan Davis, Sheroid Evans, Chevoski Collins, Mykkele Thompson, Josh Turner, Kevin Vaccaro, Adrian Colbert, Erik Huhn

What's that mean?

It means that the Longhorns have some young, unproven talent that will be asked to step into critical rolls as defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford try to find new starters at cornerback (Byndom) and safety (Phillips).

Diggs and Thompson are the lone returning full-time starters while Thomas started in 10 games in 2013.

Diggs, the younger brother of former Longhorn Quentin Jammer, has started in 36 of the 39 games he's played and will be the unquestioned leader of the secondary. He'll try to build off a 2013 campaign that saw him lead the team in pass breakups (10), which earned him an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection (coaches).

Thompson started in 12 games a season ago and finished sixth on the team in tackles (72). But the former high school quarterback has always left Texas' fan base wanting more, and he'll have to this fall with several hungry, unproven players eagerly awaiting their chance.

One of those is Collins, a redshirt freshman, who saw plenty of snaps with the first team at the other safety position during Saturday's scrimmage.

He'll be competing with Turner, who started in three games last fall, and Colbert, who finished tied for third on the team in special teams tackles (6), for playing time. Colbert, a former Baylor commitment, could be the most physically gifted of the bunch.

When Texas goes to its nickel package, which it could do often, the Longhorns will likely roll out Thomas at one cornerback, either Echols or Davis at the other, move Diggs to the nickel, and then have Thompson and Collins at safety.

Echols made a name for himself on special teams last season, but not necessarily in a good way. He'll get a chance to redeem himself at boundary corner this fall along with Davis, who brings a unique combination of size and speed to the position that could be hard for Vaughn to keep on the sidelines.

Evans is missing this spring because of a torn ACL injury suffered last season. Prior to the injury he was one of Texas' top reserves at cornerback, and has long been considered one of the fastest players on the team.

Who isn't on campus yet?

John Bonney, Jason Hall, Jermaine Roberts, Edwin Freeman

As is normally the case with every recruiting class, Texas is bringing in tons of talent to its secondary.

In Freeman, Texas is basically getting a linebacker (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) with the instincts to play strong safety. Think Demarco Cobbs with slightly less speed but better coverage abilities.

Here's some video of Freeman, who chose Texas over offers from, amongst others, Baylor, LSU, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M:

Boney, the No. 14 safety nationally, chose Texas late in the process over Baylor. He had one of the more impressive offers lists of UT's class.

Here's some video of Boney:

Hall, a three-star safety, decommitted from Nebraska once he got his Texas offer. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, he has the size to compete right away but will likely have to wait until 2015.

Roberts, from New Orleans Saint Augustine, chose Texas early over offers from Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and UCLA.

Season prediction

Collins will get first crack to team up with Thompson at safety and will perform well, but Colbert's athleticism will make him a viable option and he'll see the field plenty.

It might not be Texas' base set, but the nickel will work out quite well with Diggs inside and Echols/Davis on the boundary. Look for Davis to win the matchup in the end and don't sleep on Evans once he returns to full healthy.

Huhn could move to linebacker before it's all said and done.

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