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Projected Starting Cornerback: Jr Rashawn King (50 tkls, 1.5 tfl, 4 BrUp, 1 fr)
Projected Starting Free Safety: Sr Jeff Deliz (25 tckls, 3.5 tfl, 1 sack, 1BrUp, 1 Int)
Projected Starting Rover: Jr Ketric Buffin (11 tkls, 1 BrUp, 1 int)
Projected Starting Cornerback: So Blake Carter (2 tkls, 1 BrUp)
Wildcard: Sr Greg Thrasher (43 tkls, 1 tfl, 3BrUp, 2 Int, in '05)
Navy takes a considerable loss in the secondary with the departure of seniors Jeremy McGown and Keenan Little, while the recent transfer of plebe starter Jeromy Miles further adds to at least a momentary question of who will be playing where come next season. Fortunately for the Midshipmen, there is a good mix of young talent and veteran experience in the unit that Navy will be in position to improve upon its secondary ranking for 2007.
Rashwan King will likely get the start at cornerback after a fine season in 2006. Rashawn really developed into a solid cover corner last season, and has the potential to grow into a star on Navy's defense in 2005. He's an intelligent player ho has the ability to man up on a receiver, and does a good job getting in position to break up passes. I thought he played particularly well in the Bowl game, and am excited to see him back in action during spring practice.
I'm really high on Jeff Deliz, who with the departure of Jeromy Miles is set to take over the starting free safety position. Deliz is a physical and athletic safety with an outside linebacker's mentality. Playing primarily as a nickelback in 2006, Deliz nevertheless showed a great nose for the ball and enough situational awareness to have many Navy fans talking about a breakout season in 2007. While the loss of McGown hurts, Deliz has more then enough talent to fill the gap, the only question is whether or not he'll be able to duplicate Jeremy's on-the-field leadership. With a defense which is set to break in several players who have never earned a start before, its essential guys like Deliz and linebackers Irv Spencer and Clint Sovie step up and fill the void of departed seniors.
Ketric Buffin is set to start the spring at the starting rover position, and despite his size (5'7, 165) he's proved himself to be a tenacious competitor and a violent hitter. His numbers are deceiving when you consider the amount of time he was banged up most of 2006, but remember that he came in last year at #1 on the depth chart. If Ketric can stay healthy then the Midshipmen should be fine at rover.
Current plebe Blake Carter will likely get a good crack at starting at the other corner position.The 5-11, 184-lb Stillwater, Oklahoma product has impressed fans with his athletic ability in practice, yet has only seen mop-up duty on the field. If he has a good spring, the starting job should be his.
The wildcard in all of this is of course Greg Thrasher, who started off and on in 2005 before leaving the team in 2006 to concentrate on academics. Thrasher may of have had his "issues" with tackling in 2005, but he had become a decent corner by the end of the year and would have been a starter in 2006 had he stayed with the team. He's apparently gained some weight since the '05 campaign, but only time will tell if he's able to recapture a starting corner job. Another wild card may be (note the "may be") Greg Sudderth, who actually moved to wide receiver in 2006. Sudderth is one of the better athletes on this team, but his fundamentals (aka tackling) were an issue in 2006. He did see a significant amount of time against ECU at defensive back, but will have to really impress the coaching staff if he's to move back to defense in 2007. Otherwise, I expect him to compete for playing time at wide receiver.
Aside from these players, there are several who may push for time and/or provide quality depth at the position. Dell Robinson is a veteran who could end up playing the nickelback position in 2007, while Scott Simpson and Jordan Reagan are two Texans who could move up the depth chart at cornerback. And don't forget about Joey Taylor, who looks like he'll end up at safety next season.
While the loses on Navy's secondary are significant, the potential is here. I expect the unit to go through its growing pains early on, but considering the decent amount of experience here, this unit should be continually improving.
(Photos From NavySports.com)