Alabama, Florida and LSU each like to call itself “DBU,” and each has put its fair share of defensive backs on all-league and All-America teams – and into the NFL. And there could be as many as nine defensive backs from those three schools selected in the 2018 NFL draft.
But each has some work to do to earn the “DBU” moniker this season. There are holes galore in the secondary at each school.
Here’s a closer look at the three; they’re listed from least to worry about to most to worry about. But make no mistake: “least” is a relative term.
The concern: There are young stars at corner and safety – and by “young stars,” we mean two guys who could become All-Americans. Depth should be OK at safety, but there are questions at corner. Heck, forget depth at corner: There is a concern about a starting spot.
The skinny: CB Greedy Williams was a freshman All-America selection in 2017 and he looks to be the next great LSU corner. Starting Ss John Battle and Grant Delpit return, and Delpit is a rising star with a high ceiling.
Former five-star prospect JaCoby Stevens signed with LSU in 2017 as a safety, moved to wide receiver during summer camp, then moved back to safety during the season. This is a big spring for him. At the least, he is expected to put pressure on Battle; Stevens could end up starting.
Junior Eric Monroe, sophomore Todd Harris and senior Ed Paris also are in the mix, though Paris could move to corner because of the startling lack of bodies there. Delpit, Stevens, Harris and Monroe all were coveted recruits; each was considered a top-11 safety nationally.
Corner is a vast wasteland other than Williams, who is a great cornerstone. He had six picks and 11 pass breakups last season. The early departures of Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver II make this a huge spring for sophomore CBs Kary Vincent Jr. and Dontre Kirklin. Redshirt freshman Mannie Netherly has moved from wide receiver to corner, and his size (6-3, 194) makes him an intriguing possibility. And it’s not as if he was an entrenched receiver, anyway, as he played quarterback as a senior in high school.
Third-year sophomore Kristian Fulton is a former five-star prospect, but he was suspended last season and may not be eligible this season. Fulton hasn’t played much football since he was a high school senior in 2015, so there figures to be rust if he is eligible.
True freshman Kelvin Joseph arrives in the summer; he was one of the nation’s best prep safeties, but because LSU shockingly whiffed at corner on the recruiting trail, he will begin his Tigers career at corner.
LSU has added a safeties coach in Bill Busch, who had been co-coordinator at Rutgers. Corey Raymond had overseen LSU’s entire secondary, but Raymond will focus on corners this season. Given the unsettled state of affairs in the secondary, that might be a good thing.
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