PROVO — The pickings in the defensive backfield have often been slim at BYU when beginning a new practice session, however, those pickings look to be relatively plentiful entering this coming fall practice session.
For a secondary looking to replace three of its starters from a year ago, that’s obviously a good thing. While there appears to be some good talent to choose from, the remaining talent is relatively inexperienced as a whole.
Such a prospect is making defensive backs coach Nick Howell cautiously optimistic.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for a lot of guys to make names for themselves,” he said. “They’ve shown some good ability in practices, and that’s exciting, but we’ll learn soon enough if they can keep that up and make those same plays during games.”
Travis Uale stands as the lone returning starter at the free safety position, while graduating field corner Brian Logan, boundary corner Brandon Bradley and strong safety Andrew Rich need to be replaced.
While most years see one or maybe two legitimate options to compete at defensive back, this year those options look to be greater.
“There seems to be about three guys at each position that we think can legitimately compete for a starting spot,” said Howell.
The hottest battle continuing from spring practices could be at field corner. Logan left some big shoes to fill, but there looks to be at least three quality options to replace him as a starter.
During spring practices, junior Robbie Buckner (5-foot-10, 176 pounds) and freshman Jordan Johnson (5-10, 175) were “neck and neck” for the starting job according to head coach Bronco Mendenhall. They’ll continue that competition into the fall practice session.
“Robbie has been a solid player for a while now,” said Howell. “Most fans don’t know about him, but he’s been through the grinder, and he works very hard and has some good talent, and had a great spring for us.
"Jordan Johnson is still learning about what it takes to play in a coach Mendenhall-style defense, but he has as much ability as anyone on the team to play some good cornerback for us.”
The other option involves moving senior Corby Eason (5-8, 172) over to start at field corner: “Corby knows every position and filled in very well for Brian (Logan) when he was hurt last year,” said Howell.
Eason played primarily at boundary corner last season, rotating in frequently to spell Bradley, and could very well find himself starting there this year. The other primary option at boundary is JC transfer Preston Hadley (6-0, 200), who got some very good experience during spring.
“He’ll battle there with Corby, and we have some good options with Preston showing well in spring," Howell said. "I don’t know yet if we’ll keep Corby at boundary, move him over to field, or what right now, but it’s nice to have options.”
Another option at boundary is junior DaQuan Everett (6-3, 210).
“DaQuan has come along well," said Howell. "He understands our concepts and he’s bought into the system, and he has a lot of ability."
Coming out of the spring, the starting job looks to be 6-2, 210-pound sophomore Daniel Sorensen’s to lose. He battled hard with fellow sophomore Jray Galeai (6-0, 179) and will continue to do so throughout the August practice session.
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