WKU Spring Football Preview: Secondary


Nov 9, 2013; West Point, NY, USA; Army Black Knights running back Tony Giovannelli (19) is tackled by Western Kentucky Hilltoppers defensive back Tyree Robinson (22) during the second half at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

In the next few days we here at Wave The Red Towel will preview the WKU 2014 Football squad leading up to the Spring Game Saturday at Houchins Industries L. T. Smith Stadium.

Lets get a quick run down of how the week will work; today we will address the secondary of the WKU defense, Tuesday we will evaluate linebackers and defensive line, Wednesday we will see the offensive line, wide receivers and quarterbacks, Thursday we will go over the running back position and who is transitioning Western into the post Bobby Rainey and Antonio Andrews era. Finally, on Friday, we will look at the all new WKU coaching staff spear headed by Jeff Brohm, all leading up to the Red and White game on Saturday! Here we go Tops fans – lets talk football!

There is a word that’s only too familiar in the football world – “rebuilding”. This saying is somewhat accurate for the WKU secondary. Of four starters on last years third place team in the Sun Belt only one of them is returning – All-Conference cornerback Cam Thomas. Thomas had five interceptions on the year with 10 passes broken up. On top of his duties patrolling the air, Thomas recorded 41 tackles with 32 of those being solo. Thomas, a senior, will quickly take on the captaincy not only in the secondary but most likely the defense as a whole.

Moving onto those who can replace the other three departing, most notably the early departure of safety Jonathan Dowling to the NFL draft. Before the new signees come to campus and make the roster, there are currently 10 defensive backs on the Hilltopper roster (not including Thomas). Thats 10 hats vying for four positions. There are separate players who fit best in different schemes, however thats not what were about to do. There are a handfull of players who could see valuable time in the base defensive package. Hilltoppers defensive backs coach Mike Cassity is very happy with how the secondary has come together in winter workouts and spring camp. According to an interview with WKUsports.com, Coach Cassity said they are focusing on fundamentals most importantly. One player that stands out to him currently is safety Marcus Ward, a 6-3 205 pound sophomore. If Ward gets the nod at safety, he will bring much length to an otherwise small secondary. A down side, however, is his only being a sophomore. It would be a quick learning curve for him with only a year under his belt in D1 football. At safety he is the QB of the defense and vocalization is necessary for the D to communicate well.

At the coner position, there are a few options that seem practical to us here at WTRT. Rico Brown, a 5-11 185 RS-senior saw valuable playing time in his junior campaign. With him returning, he could look to play in a full time starting roll. Brown recorded 29 tackles in just three starts for WKU in 2013. Brown transitioned from wide receiver to cornerback in the spring of last year. Having the know how of route running and hands, he could be a ball-hawk for WKU.
Another possibility in the secondary for WKU is 6-2 175 pound junior Forrest Coleman, a transfer from San Joaquin Delta College in California. Barring no NCAA waiting period, Coleman could roll right into a starting position. The final player who could play that saw valuable playing time in the 2013 season is corner Prince Charles Iworah. He played in three games and his top performance coming in the clobbering WKU took to Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. Other than that, it would be trial by fire.

For WKU, this year isn’t necessarily a rebuilding year, although most will call it that. This year will be fun for the Hilltoppers. They are being welcomed into a new conference, Conference USA, and will be ready to show they can survive without Rainey and Andrews.

This new regime and the players that will comprise the squad are hungry and you will get to see what they bring to the table Saturday. Check back tomorrow for a review of the linebackers and the defensive line. Until then enjoy your evening and as always…GO TOPS!