Rookies, veterans competing for starting spots in WKU’s secondary

Cole Claybourn

Just like what’s going at the linebacker position during fall camp, competitions for starting spots in the defensive secondary are under way.

With two spots open at both the cornerback and safety position, just about the entire defense is now up for grabs in terms of starting spots.

“Every day is a battle,” said defensive backs coach Alonzo Hampton. “We’re challenging those guys every day, grading film and making sure we’re getting good competition. The best two players will win (at each position).”

At both spots, a mix of underclassmen and upperclassmen are competiting.

Hampton said there are four players that he could see starting at cornerback and three for the safety spot.

At cornerback, Sophomore Tyree Robinson and Arius Wright  who both started as true freshman last season  are competing with redshirt freshman Cam Thomas, senior Derrius Brooks, and freshman Eric Robinson-Berry

At safety, Hampton said senior Ryan Beard, sophomore Ty Scott, sophomore Kiante Young and freshman Champ Lewis have stood out to him.

“We’ve got four or five guys right there competing. It’s just wide open,” he said. “It’s good to have good young talent, and Coach Taggart has done a good job of recruiting guys in the defensive secondary.”

Hampton said he’s been every bit as impressed with the younger guys as he has the veterans and he sees this as a true competition. Even if a player started last year, that in no way guarantees them a starting spot this season, he said.

“The one thing that Coach Taggart has been able to do is recruit guys that can play early,” Hampton said. “When you do that, we’re going to get to the point where you have enough depth that when one guy goes down, the next guy can step in and we’re not going to miss a beat.”

The defense recorded eight interceptions last season, and Hampton  in his first season as defensive backs coach  said that’s not enough.

He said their identity is going to be causing turnovers and making interceptions.

“We just have to make a lot of plays on the ball,” Hampton said. “Last year, we didn’t have a lot of picks – only had eight. Our goal is to do more than that, and our guys are working toward that.

“Any time you can win a turnover battle and create opportunity for the offense to score, it’s going to make us better. As a defense, that’s what you’re about.”

Taggart slowly introducing UK, Navy material

Just a little more than two weeks away from WKU’s first game, Head Coach Willie Taggart said slowly by surely, practices are starting to include game preparation for the Toppers’ first two games against Kentucky and Navy.

Taggart said it will just be introductory stuff for the next few days because the players are still polishing up WKU’s offensive and defensive schemes.

“Last week, we threw a lot at our guys from a schematic standpoint,” Taggart said. “Toward the end of the week we’re going to hold back and really simplify some things and start looking for more consistency from our football team.”

The Toopers held a situational scrimmage on Sunday. Taggart said coaches ran the team through a number of situations, including overtime and with four minutes to go, and said they had a point system to keep it competitive.

“Mainly it was to get the guys to understand situations and not just go out and play football but understand how to execute better,” Taggart said.