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Spring Preview 2013: Defensive Back

The South Alabama Jaguar secondary had its moments last year, but it also had its share of breakdowns which often lead to it getting beat deep. There were too many issues last season reading and matching offensive receivers.

With last year’s DB coach moving on and new defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer doubling as the DB coach, expect this unit to cut down drastically on the mental mistakes. The back seven struggled with zone concepts in 2012. When you struggle with zone, you have to play man. When you play man, you give up more big plays, you get called for more pass interference penalties, and you just get beat for more balls (especially if your CB aren’t big). Coach Kevin Sherrer will employ more zone going forward.

There are only two members of last year’s secondary moving on. Senior Bowler B.J. Scott was a two year starter at safety and will be tough to replace. He was extremely athletic and played both the run and pass very well. Reserve CB Jonathan Cameron contributed 4 tackles in only 6 games last season, mostly through special teams.

Redshirt junior Anthony Harris was making a real push for a starting CB spot in preseason drills last fall until a chronic shoulder injury flared up again. He’s since had surgery to repair the shoulder and will not be 100% this spring. Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go come 2013. Junior CB Montell Garner is excellent in coverage. He’s physical with receivers and plays the ball well. He missed a portion of the season last year at Navarro College with a foot injury, and it’s going to keep him out of spring ball. While it would be nice to have him available this spring, coach Joey Jones feels like it was the foot injury that kept some BCS schools from coming in and making scholarship offers.

Senior Tyrell Pearson had his share of issues last fall, but he also made his share of plays. On the year he had 40 tackles with 4 interceptions while breaking up 11 passes. He’s very interesting as the defense transitions into more zone coverage, as he excelled in two years of junior college and picked off a ton of passes playing zone. Senior Darrius Morrow was the other junior college CB who came in and started last fall. Morrow collected 43 tackles in 2012 and defended 7 passes. He’s extremely athletic with some natural cover skills. Coming out of spring drills last year, redshirt junior Qudarius Ford was penciled in as a starter at one of the CB spots. He eventually missed the season due to injury, but he’s expected back at 100% this spring. He had 6 tackles as a reserve in 2011. Redshirt senior Eddy Cabrera has played sporadically throughout his career, but he’s been pretty solid when given a shot. On his career, he’s gathered 9 tackles, 2 interceptions and 1 pass break-up. Redshirt sophomore CB E.J. May has yet to see any action, but we’ve heard good reports on him. Remember he was talented enough as a high school senior to turn down BCS offers (Kentucky and Minnesota) to come to South Alabama.

Charles Watson is an interesting (and valuable) guy because he’s played CB and safety both on the junior college level and here at South Alabama. The senior picked off a pass in 2012 while defending 2 others and notching 32 tackles. He could make a run at B.J. Scott’s vacant safety spot, or make a run at one of the CB spots, if coach Kevin Sherrer is looking to upgrade one of those spots from a size standpoint. Watson measures 6’1,200. The smart money would be on redshirt junior Terrell Brigham to hold onto one of the safety jobs. He really came on last year, making 12 starts and racking up 71 tackles, 2 interceptions, 5 PBU and 2 fumble recoveries. One welcome addition this spring should be redshirt senior Charles Harris. He missed the 2012 due to academics, but he had an excellent 2011 season 81 tackles in just 10 games (to put that into perspective, that’s 19 more tackles than Enrique Williams had in 2011). The coaching staff feels like Harris was one of the better safeties in the league in 2011 and can be again. Redshirt junior Alonzo Long started the first game versus UTSA before giving way to Brigham. He’s more of an in-the-box safety who struggles some going backwards, but can really bring it in run support.

Redshirt freshman safety Mike Dumas, redshirt sophomore safety Dionte’ McDuffy, redshirt freshman safety Reggie Jackson, redshirt freshman safety Scooter Blake and redshirt freshman CB James Richards are young guys trying to make an impression with their new position coach.

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