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Texas Spring Preview: DBs

In the end of our Texas Spring Preview series, we finish up with one of the core strength positions of the program, the Longhorns’ secondary. Putting the DB back in DBU. 
CORNERBACKPersonnel:Quandre Diggs, 5-foot-9, 204 lbs, Senior: Diggs’ career has been mostly good, but he’d like to go out on a high note by helping return DBU to the heights his brother helped take it.Sheroid Evans, 6-foot-0, 190 lbs, Senior: The most physically gifted player in the secondary, Evans has been the invisible man for myriad reasons, namely track and injuries. Duke Thomas, 5-foot-11, 182 lbs, Junior: This is the year we’ll find out just what Texas has in the athletic corner.Bryson Echols, 5-foot-10, 185 lbs, Sophomore: Echols led the team in special teams tackles and penalties last year, so we know he’s aggressive. He also has fancy feet. I’ve been told he’s a possible multi-year starter.Antwuan Davis, 5-foot-11, 191 lbs, RS Freshman: Exceptionally fast and strong, Davis was redshirted, something that should benefit the program greatly. We’ll see how soon he can contribute.SAFETYPersonnel:Mykkele Thompson, 6-foot-2, 182 lbs, Senior: Oft maligned defensive back, Thompson has one final season to live up to his athletic potential. Josh Turner, 6-foot-0, 179 lbs, Senior: Turner’s languished in Thompson’s shadow for the most part, but he’s been decent depth at times and serviceable in nickel and dime situations. Adrian Colbert, 6-foot-2, 202 lbs, Sophomore: To whom much is given, much is expected. Athletically, Colbert was given a lot. He’ll only play as fast and violent as he can process. Kevin Vaccaro, 5-foot-10, 185 lbs, RS Sophomore: Missed all of last year so there’s considerable rust, but he should excel on kick coverage.Erik Huhn, 6-foot-3, 214 lbs, RS Freshman: Huhn also missed all last year. We should find out in short order if he’s a safety or linebacker.Chevoski Collins, 5-foot-11, 201 lbs, RS Freshman: Collins is a promising and instinctive player who could flourish at either safety position or possibly nickel. Questions heading into Spring Practice:Who are the best four? The best five? The best six? How do all these moving parts fit into Strong and Bedford’s idea of a cohesive unit? Will any corners move to safety? Will the light come on for Colbert? How does the staff view the role of the nickel and what trait are needed to play there? How does the staff find away to harness Evans’ considerable ability. – Eric NahlinWhere does Diggs fit in this secondary? Do the coaches like his veteran leadership at corner or will the glut of athletes at that position combined with Quandre’s versatility and leadership see him move inside to safety? How will the coaches handle Texas’ previous lack of physicality and toughness at the safety positions? – Ian BoydExpectations exiting Spring Practice:Diggs and Thomas will start at corner, in my opinion, but the staff will look for ways to get Evans on the field. Echols will also make a splash with his coverage abilities, but he’s not quite as athletic as Thomas and not as seasoned as Diggs. Thompson will somehow hold on to his starting spot thanks to his grasp of similar concepts to what’s been run previously. Even if Colbert struggles at times mentally, I think the staff will work with him because the reward is greater than the risk. – ENSingle-deep safety man coverage will be the name of the game in Austin and the coaches will love this group for locking down people and blitzing but will strive to find some enforcers in the group. Colbert and Diggs will snag the safety positions to make room for Evans, Thomas, and Echols at corner. The staff won’t require the same kind of run support from the nickel position. Huhn moves to linebacker and Collins finds a role in dime packages. – IBBest/Worst case scenario:Best case is some corner, any corner, emerges as a player who can survive on an island. If that’s Diggs, great. If It’s Evans or Thomas, that’s fine too. Colbert taking the next step could be the lynchpin to the entire secondary because of his range and physicality. Also ideal would be the staff finding their perfect fit for nickel, perhaps one of the younger DB’s. Worst case is Diggs and Thomas are basically what they were last year, not bad, but not great, Thompson being what he was last year and the light not coming on for Colbert which could leave a gaping hole in the secondary. – ENBest case is Thomas and some of the young corners make a leap under the high level of coaching they’ll get under Vaughn, Bedford, and Strong. Colbert emerges as a versatile playmaker at one safety spot and Diggs makes a jump as a senior and offers leadership and toughness that’s been missing. Worst case is that none of the corners can handle a Tyler Lockett or Antwaun Goodley without safety help and none of the safeties emerge as big hitters who can make tackles near the line of scrimmage. LSU and OU make a move to snatch away the DBU title belt. – IB

History major, football theorist.