Fall Camp Position Preview: Defensive Backs
Marcel Yates is in his fourth season as a member of the
With the linebackers and defensive line getting so much attention this preseason, Yates is not feeling the love.
“People are rating our secondary as the weakness of this defense,” Yates said. “I’m kind of using that as fuel with our guys.”
While all four starters from last season will return for the Broncos, there will be a shakeup on the depth chart. Yates has put an emphasis on getting the best four players on the field regardless of position, and heavy hitters at the safety spot will be a priority.
Senior Gerald Alexander (6’, 204-pounds), who started all 25 games the last two years at corner, moves to safety this season. Alexander finished sixth on the team in tackles in 2005 and led the squad in pass breakups. In 2004 Alexander led the Broncos with five interceptions.
“Gerald has had some years where he could have dominated; he could have made some big plays,” Yates said. “I’m expecting him to have a breakout year and shock some people and show everybody that he can make those big plays.”
Starting at the other safety position is junior Marty Tadman (5’11, 182-pounds). Tadman, who earned second-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors last season, has been named to the Preseason All-WAC team by The Sporting News and Blue Ribbon. He was also named a Preseason All-American by NationalChamps.net, and the 10th-best free safety in the country by The Sporting News. Tadman led the Broncos with five interceptions last season and finished second on the team in tackles with 101.
“Tadman is money,” Yates said. “He is smart. People stare at him and go off the way he looks. He’s not the biggest, he’s not the fastest. But I like his college football savvy. He’s a smart kid and a hard worker, and he has an edge to him.”
Playing the corners will be senior Quinton Jones and sophomore Orlando Scandrick. Yates says that both players have a cocky edge to them that corners need to be successful.
“At corner you need guys to be kind of cocky because you are on an island all by yourself,” Yates said. “If you don’t have that confidence then you’re playing the wrong position. They both think they’re Deion Sanders, which is good.”
Jones (5’9, 177-pounds) was named to a couple of All-America teams last season as a punt returner. He has been named a Preseason All-American by Blue Ribbon and Preseason All-WAC by The Sporting News. As a corner, Jones recorded 16 tackles last season and three pass breakups.
“Quinton Jones is playing pretty well right now,” Yates said. “He’s been real positive and he’s been working hard. He’s probably the one guy that I’m most impressed with at camp so far.”
Scandrick (5’11, 187-pounds) started 12 of the Broncos’ 13 games last season as a true freshman, garnering freshman All-America honors from Scout.com and The Sporting News. Scandrick finished seventh on the team in tackles last season, 11 pass breakups and an interception that he returned 50 yards for a touchdown.
“I need those four starters to have big years as far as turnovers go,” Yates said. “I’m putting pressure on myself to make sure we do not give up those big plays that we’ve been giving up the past couple of years.”
Austin Smith (5’9, 173-pounds) is slated to be the fifth defensive back for the Broncos in 2006. Last season Smith started all 13 games for the Broncos at safety, finishing fifth on the team with 51 tackles.
Overall, Yates is happy with what he has seen from his secondary. They have all been working very hard, and have been running to the ball better than any other secondary since his arrival at
“I think we’ll be more physical on that back end...We have to make receivers fear coming across the middle of our defense. I’m tired of guys just catching the ball, getting tackled and then just getting up. I want to have those guys looking, and thinking about Where is that safety or that corner?’”
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