STARKVILLE, MS - SEPTEMBER 15: Defensive back Johnthan Banks #13 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs intercepts a pass intended for wide receiver Rueben Randle #2 of the LSU Tigers in the fourth quarter on September 15, 2011 at Davis Wade stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
Looking at the prospects for the 2012 football team, the most solid, experienced group you can find is at cornerback. Of course, this has a lot to do with Johnthan Banks coming back for his senior year even though he was projected as a 2nd or 3rd round NFL draft pick right now.
This group is oozing with experience, so you've got to be excited about the potential of locking down opposing wide receivers. Here's a look at this group after the hump...
|Darius Slay||6'1", 190lbs||Sr.||Brunswick, GA (Itawamba CC)|
|Jamerson Love||5'10", 175lbs||So.||Aberdeen, MS (Aberdeen)|
Key Members to Replace
Key Members Returning
Johnthan Banks: 71 tackles (8 for loss), 3 sacks, 5 INTs (one pick-6), 13 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles (those are honey badger type stats, just without the fanfare).
Corey Broomfield: 59 tackles (5 for loss), 1 sack, 5 passes defended
Newcomers to Watch
This is a senior-laden position, if we're watching for newcomers if better be because we're up by four touchdowns or else State is in trouble (injuries).
If I've got to say someone it would be Will Redmond. He is going to be a stud in maroon and white, and with his talent it will be hard to redshirt him. If maybe just to get him some experience for 2013; after all, he could be going pro after his junior year (no pressure, Will).
2011 Position Performance
Playing a "bend but don't break" type of defense can give a false understanding of how good the corners are when looking at the stats. In 2011, State gave up 194.9 yards per game - which was 9th in the SEC, but we all know there were plenty of short passes the Dawgs didn't have to give up. Most of the time, Banks and Broomfield played 8-10 yards off the wide-outs. When they had to, the corners performed well.
What to Expect in 2012
Big things, because like I said, this is State's best position. Banks and Broomfield are 4-year starters in the SEC...and they've both been very successful. Remember when we thought Broomfield would be the best of the two? He had six picks his true freshman year including two for TDs, then three is sophomore year, then zero last season. But a lot of QBs seemed to avoid Broom at times, and I think that has something to do with his diminished stat line. I look for Corey to come up big, because now Banks is the big name QBs want to avoid at all costs.
It looked like a sure thing that Banks would break Walt Harris' MSU record of 16 career interceptions after he had 12 total through the 7th game of his junior season, but he's still stuck on 12. Five more will do it though, and he can put his name in the record books and solidify himself as a 1st round draft choice with another solid year.
Darius Slay isn't just an ordinary backup either. He's so good there's been talk of moving Banks to safety (where he has played before) to get all the best athletes on the field. Slay had 24 tackles, a pick-6 and 5 passed defended in a back-up role last year. He already picked off Russell three times in last week's scrimmage.
I'm trying to keep the maroon-colored glasses on the desk, but could this be the best group of corners in the SEC, a league loaded with great corners? Last year I would say Alabama had the best secondary but LSU had the best corners with Morris and Claiborne. The ladder of those two is gone for the Tigers, and MSU will be up there with the best talent-wise. It appears as though cornerback is a position you can feel pretty good about for 2012.
Next up in the FWTCT Football Spring Position Previews are the Wide Receivers and Tight Ends. Look for the WR/TE's preview post to go up tomorrow morning.