So here's the deal. I unintentionally spaced these position groups out so far that our first game is tomorrow and we're not done. And to make matters worse, this is going to be one of the shorter position previews, mostly because there's not a lot to say. We lost exactly one player off last year's chart (Collin Simpson) and replaced him directly (with J.W. Ketchum), keeping the numbers static and the charts the same size collectively.
One thing worth mentioning here is that according to the latest Depth Chart, Terrence Singleton, who used to be a safety before moving to corner, is now a safety once again. You might remember him from the corner chart a few days ago. Well,he's back, in Pog form!
This year, Baylor will start Terrell Burt for the third-consecutive season at cover safety, and Orion Stewart, an All-Big 12 performer in his first starting year, at down safety. Their career stats for the Bears, starting with Burt:
|2013||13||36||25||61||--||1.5 / 3||--||--||4||2 / 63|
|2014||13||40||13||53||--||1 / 2||1||--||6||--|
|TOTAL||39||78||41||119||--||2.5 / 5||1||--||10||2 / 63|
By this point, Burt's struggles, while not entirely his fault (I think) because of limitations elsewhere on the defense that caused him to play somewhat out of position, have been well-chronicled here and elsewhere. To say he's not exactly a fan favorite would be an understatement. Still, he's a versatile, experienced player that has never lost the unwavering support of our coaches and is back for his senior year. He's also played a big role in several of Baylor's biggest wins over the last couple of years, and since he's been such a reliable presence, we've never really known what it would be like without him.
And now Stewart:
|2013||13||25||14||39||--||--||--||--||4||1 / 82|
|2014||13||53||29||82||--||--||--||--||3||4 / 68|
|TOTAL||26||78||43||121||--||--||--||--||7||5 / 150|
To toot my own horn for a second, here's what I said about Stewart before last season:
I'm not worried about Stewart nearly as much as you might expect. I think he has the size and speed to replace Dixon and may, in pass coverage, be an improvement. The only area where I am worried is in run support; it's probably not reasonable to expect anyone to replace Dixon in helping stop the run. He was a monster in that regard.
Pretty sure I nailed that one. In his first full season as a starter, Stewart became a big part of Baylor's improved pass defense, registering 4 interceptions in 13 games, and earned All-Big 12 honors as a result. He also struggled somewhat in run support, and Baylor rarely allowed him to blitz. I'm hopeful that with improved nickelback play from Travon Blanchard and another year in the system, both of those things should change. We'll see.
Finally, we have a little craziness here. Just a few days ago, I posted a cornerback preview listing Terrence Singleton as a backup looking to get playing time behind Xavien Howard. That was apparently 100% wrong, and he's actually battling fellow junior Taion Sells to back up Stewart. I obviously didn't see that coming, but I'm interested to see where it leads. "Freaky T," as he is known, is one of those players that gets a lot of publicity from practice reports but never seems to make an impact on the field. If one reason for that at corner was that he struggled somewhat in man-to-man coverage, maybe safety is the right spot for him, after all.
Sells is coming off a year in which he played sparingly as the third-string cover safety, so his move here with Singleton is also a bit of a puzzler. He's another one of those guys where the results just don't match the hype, and I hope he doesn't lose his chance this season with Singleton back and a certain freshman looming.
Behind Burt are two more familiar names for most in Pullom and Waz, both of whom are now sophomores. Waz is following Burt's trajectory exactly in that he played in 11 games last season as a true freshman. The coaches are supposedly really high on his potential, and it's easy to see him moving directly into Burt's spot next year.
Welcome to the J.W. Ketchum Show! Despite reportedly impressing in this fall camp and being mentioned as someone who might play this year on special teams and as a backup, it looks like the former top-50 national recruit will redshirt this coming year. That's probably the right thing to do considering his relative inexperience on the defensive side; though I believe he played both ways in high school, he was mostly known for his offense. Still, it's not hard to look at a true freshman who is already 6-1, 205 and dream on his potential at the safety position, where we're going to need someone to step up either next year or the year after.