(1090 The Fan) — One of the first tasks the new coaching staff had on its to-do list was to recruit defensive backs.
They accomplished that, adding seven defensive backs to the roster through the incoming recruiting class. That was especially important because Washington returns just one defensive back that saw significant game action — junior Marcus Peters.
Seniors Sean Parker, Greg Ducre, Will Shamburger, Tre Watson and Taz Stevenson all graduated. Another defensive back who saw significant playing time, freshman Cleveland Wallace, decided to leave the team.
What remains is a group of young and inexperienced players hungry to improve. Since none of the freshmen have arrived on campus yet, the holdovers are getting every opportunity to do so with the added attention and repetitions being given them this spring.
That group includes safeties Patrick Enewally, Brandon Beaver, Thomas Vincent and Trevor Walker. The corners fighting it out for the starting spot opposite Peters as well as the slot corner position are Travell Dixon, Jermaine Kelly, Brian Clay and Kevin King who is out for spring practice with an injury
Dixon, a transfer from Alabama, dealt with injuries last fall while being buried on the depth chart behind the experienced incumbents. Now healthy, the senior is excited about the opportunity to compete for a starting role.
“Just making the best of my opportunity,” Dixon said of his goal this spring. “I don’t call it a clean slate, I just call it a blessing. That’s all it is and I’m just going to take advantage.”
Does Dixon feel a sense of urgency to showcase his talent in his final collegiate season?
“Yeah, it’s a bit of an urgency,” noted Dixon. “Last year I had a little bit of injuries but it’s over and I’m just going to take advantage of the opportunity I have now.
“I feel like (defensive backs) coach (Jimmy) Lake has a ton of different technique to develop you as an NFL corner. And I feel like that’s what he’s doing with us, implementing different techniques that will help us this season.”
Speaking about those techniques, coach Lake said that all new concepts are being implemented by the new coaching staff with the defensive backs in spring practice from press man-to-man coverage to the zone concepts, “everything has been turned upside down.”
“Our job is to score and get the ball back…We’re changing everything,” Lake admitted. “Cause really, when it comes down to it, it’s all about scoring, getting the ball back. The more interceptions, the more times we can get our hands on the football, that’s going to define our secondary.”
And just what is he seeing from this young and hungry secondary group?
“It’s a learning process and every day we’re just talking about getting better and they’re doing a good job with that,” Lake said. “It’s going to be nice to see our full 2014 DB crew all together…coming up this summer.”
One defensive back he doesn’t have to worry about too much is Peters.
“Marcus definitely has the size that the next level is looking for and the play-making ability,” Lake said. “I think he’s an instinctive corner and now it’s really about honing in the rest of his skills, getting his feet better, and still improving his game and getting his hands on the football more.”
The new staff has their hands on a young group of defensive backs, molding them into the future of Washington’s secondary.
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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