Monday, August 6, 2007


Returning: 10
Lost: 4 (Marcus McCauley, Elgin Simmons, Josh Sherley, Vincent Mays)
Incoming: 7

If there’s one area of defense a WAC team needs to be able to count on, it’s the secondary – yet it’s the least solidified of the team’s units. After struggling last season (no interceptions until the eighth game), the Bulldogs now have to do without Marcus McCauley (Vikings).

Taking over the No. 1 cornerback role is senior Damon Jenkins (5-11, 185), who was the only member of the secondary to record an interception last season with three. A former highly-touted recruit, Jenkins will be counted on to not only step up his game and cover the top opposing receiver, but also to lead a squad of underclassmen.

Damion Owens (5-11, 185) and A.J. Jefferson (6-0, 180) both saw time as true freshmen last season, and it’s a good thing, since they’ll be competing for the other starting spot. Jefferson showed a knack for making plays in limited time last season, and has the athleticism reminiscent of a young McCauley. Owens has become a verbal leader in practice, but saw mostly special teams action in 2006.

Junior college transfer Sharrod Davis (5-11, 190), a former Oregon corner and kick returner, is also likely to make an impact. He should be a big boost to a unit that lacks depth and experience. Sophomore walk-on Jason Blackmon (5-10, 170) isn’t likely to see much time.

As many as four true freshmen will start the grooming process in J.J. Stallworth (5-11, 185), Jermaine Thomas (5-11, 180), Isaiah Green (5-10, 180) and Phillip Thomas (6-0, 190). Stallworth, the younger brother of NFL receiver Donte Stallworth is likely to redshirt, as is speedy Green. Jermaine Thomas, the most touted of the newcomers and one of the highest-rated WAC recruits, could compete for immediate playing time. Phillip Thomas has the size that could also allow him to play safety down the road.

Holding down the starting safety spots, for now, are free safety Marvin Haynes (6-1, 195) who became a starter last season, and is capable of running step-for-step with most receivers. His size and long strides make him a weapon. Strong safety Moses Harris (6-1, 200), a former scout team MVP, is known for his hitting the books and his opponents. He didn’t get off to as well of a start as expected last season, but showed maturity in the Spring Game. He’ll have talented redshirt freshman Lorne Bell (5-10, 195) pushing him every step of the way. Bell can lay the hits as well, and has more of a nose for picking off passes. Don't be surprised if Hill finds a way to get him on the field ASAP.

Junior Jake Jorde (6-0, 195) backs up Haynes, and has speed but hasn’t shown the playmaking instincts to become a starter yet. Senior walk-on Brian Gridiron (6-2, 220) adds depth along with true freshmen Terrance Dennis (5-11, 170) and Zak Hill (6-2, 190), Pat Hill’s youngest son. Dennis should be an impact player down the road, but will likely redshirt this season, as will Hill, who was injured during the playoffs for Clovis West last season.

Rating: 6 of 10

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  1. Regarding our DB's, call me "brave," but I'll go out on a limb to make this prediction: They will be better than last year's crew.

    Good analysis--thanks!

    Steve Burnes

  2. Let's hope so Steve! The 'Dogs will definitely need Owens, Jefferson and Davis to step up to stay alive against the passing attack of Hawaii.

    And Boise State, New Mexico State and Oregon will present some big tests too.

    What do you think the problem was with last year's group?


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