While We're Still a BCS Team: Secondary

While the circumstances surrounding the front seven (or sometimes just six) of the Iowa State defense seem somewhat dire, the secondary should come into the season as the strength of the defense. Led by a veteran coach in Bob Elliott (a guy once considered to be the heir apparent to Hayden Fry at Iowa), this group should prove to be quite capable. Leonard Johnson enters his third season as a starter in the Iowa State secondary while assuming the role of lockdown corner. His improvement has been evident over the last season as the ball has been sailing his way less (although, who wouldn't have rather thrown in Kennard Banks' direction?). Johnson, along with senior David Sims and fellow junior Ter'ran Benton provide a veteran core to the defense that should give Cyclone fans some hope going into 2010.

Projected Starters:

SS: David Sims (RSSr.)

FS: Durrell Givens (JUCO)

CB: Leonard Johnson (Jr.)

CB: Ter'ran Benton (Jr.)

CB: Anthony Young (JUCO)

 

My projected starting secondary includes three obvious choices between Sims, Johnson and Benton. Filling in for James Smith will likely be JUCO transfer Durrell Givens, although backup Michael O'Connell could very easily grab the starting spot if Givens falters. Sims and Johnson are both All-Big 12 caliber defensive backs (just ask Phil Steele) while Benton provides experience and toughness, especially after playing part of last years Nebraska game on a broken leg. Young, a 4-star JUCO recruit, will likely see time spelling Johnson and Benton, as well as playing a corner or nickel position when the defense goes with five defensive backs - a formation that may be likely with the linebacker situation. The development of Matt Tau'fo'ou may have as much do with with using a nickel formation as anything else. Regardless, these guys should see the major minutes this fall.

 

Backups:

 

S:

Michael O'Connell (RSSr.)

Zac Sandvig (RSSr.)

Matt Morton (RSSo.)

Earl Brooks (RSJr.)

Deon Broomfield (RSFr.)

 

CB:

Jeremy Reeves (So.)

Jansen Watson (RSFr.)

Jacques Washington (RSFr.)

 

The depth at both positions is actually relatively healthy for the first time in years. O'Connell started in spurts last year, while Sandvig provides somewhat competent depth as well. Morton earned playing time as well last year, while Brooks and Broomfield are both coming off of redshirt years. The cornerback position also provides intriguing talent, led by Jeremy Reeves, who garnered playing time as a true freshman last year. Reeves is disadvantaged by his height (5-8), though one might wonder if that might have been the main reason he wasn't more highly recruited, as he may possess some of the best pass breakup skills on the team. Watson and Washington will be coming off of redshirt years and will likely be worked into the rotation as well.

 

 

Walkons:

Wes Boyer (RSFr.)

Jay Brummel (RSFr.)

Tauhaun Fountain (RSSo.)

Gary Gregg (RSFr.)

Jace Hawley (So.)

Thad Satre (RSFr.)

 

Recruits:

Adrian Bennett

Matt Thomas

 

None of the additional walkons or recruits should be expected to play this year. Depth at the position should mean you shouldn't worry about learning any of these names for at least a year. Adrian Bennett may play at either linebacker or in the secondary, but that may become more clear in fall camp.

 

The Iowa State secondary was opportunistic if nothing else in 2009. If they can continue their ball-hawking ways, as well as leaning on some of the most veteran leadership on the team, it should be one less thing to worry about going into 2010. This season needs to be the one where this group starts to truly fulfill the talent they've displayed - because between Sims, Givens, Johnson, Benton and Young (two four star recruits and three three star recruits - with multiple good BCS offers between them) - there is enough talent to do the job.

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