The cornerbacks are pretty much pulling down all the experience in the secondary for State, because at safety there will be plenty of new guys on the field. But that might be okay, because these new guys are pretty talented.
Charles Mitchell and Wade Bonner pass the baton to the guys outlined here..
|Hattiesburg, MS (Oak Grove)
|Mobile, AL (St. Paul's Episcopal)
Key Members to Replace
Charles Mitchell: (team captain and 3-year starter), 95 tackles (3 for loss), 1 sack, 3 passes defended, 1 forced fumble.
Wade Bonner: six starts in 2011, 66 tackles (1 for loss), 4 passes defended.
Key Members Returning
Nickoe Whitley: seven starts (missed last 3 games due to injury), 34 tackles (2 for loss), 4 INTs, 5 passes defended, 1 forced fumble.
Newcomers to Watch
Jay Hughes and Dee Arrington. These two might be the starters if Whitley is unable to return from his Achilles injury. Arrington was a 4-star recruit in the 2011 class and did not redshirt last year - so that should tell you that he is pretty talented. Jay Hughes is the son of Tony Hughes - the safeties coach....so he should know proper technique, right?
2011 Position Performance
State gave up 194.9 yards per game - which was 9th in the SEC. Mitchell didn't seem to have as good of year as he did prior - although his sophomore season would be hard to duplicate. Nickoe played great before the injury, and Bonner was an average player.
What to Expect in 2012
A lot will have to do with Whitley's return. He is, as everyone knows, a head hunter and force to be reckoned with. If he is not able to get back in time for the start of the season, Hughes and Arrington will likely have to take over...and they don't have much experience. Johnthan Banks could be an option as well. With the depth at corner, and him having played safety before, it could happen.
If I was ranking these position previews in order of concern, safety would be #2 behind offensive line. Young safeties have a way of hurting a team really bad....with deep touchdown passes. A safety's mind is extremely important, it won't be all about skill for these guys.
I'm hoping Nickoe will be able to play at the start of the season. If so, things could be just fine. With him locking down one spot, Hughes and Arrington should be able to hold down the fort at the other.
Next up in the FWTCT Football Spring Position Previews is Special Teams. Look for the ST preview post to go up in this afternoon.