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Pre-Spring Position Changes: Defenders on the Move!

Some fairly big news today on the defensive side of the ball as the potential depth chart for Baylor Football heading into spring practice (Friday) begins to take shape.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

If you took a close look at one of the links I posted yesterday about the schedule for spring practice, you noticed the following buried in the article:

Head coach Art Briles opens his sixth season in 2013 with a squad made up of 49 returning lettermen from 2012 and welcomes four scholarship newcomers during spring drills (mid-year junior college signee Gus Penning, a tight end from Riverside Community College; early enrollee Chris Johnson, a quarterback from Bryan [Texas] High School; and two enrollees from BU's 2012 signing class: nickelback Kiante' Griffin of Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas, and defensive end Brian Nance of Trinity High School in Euless, Texas).

I'm hesitant to make too much of it at this point for the simple reason that our football program is notoriously bad at listing players at their current position. Exhibit A is K.J. Morton, who was listed as a safety on the roster through almost the entire season last year, his second as a cornerback. A starting cornerback. But this isn't the roster we're talking about now, it's an actual release where someone had to put this information together specifically, so I think we should be able to trust it.

The two players I'm talking about potentially moving are JUCO LB Brian Nance, listed as a defensive end, and HS enrollee Kiante Griffin, who played on both sides before coming Baylor, is listed on his Baylor profile as a WR, but will apparently be a nickelback. Last week the indications were that he (Griffin) would play safety. Since this is the latest word and for the same reason I just said about Nance, he's probably going to be a nickelback. As for Nance, I'm not sure entirely what this means. He's bigger now than he was at LB in HS, and his speed may play well off the edge, but is he big enough to play DE? Were we not comfortable with the quartet of Terrence Lloyd, Chris McAllister, Shawn Oakman, and Javonte Magee, or might one of them be on the move, as well? Making sense of this one is a bit more difficult simply because it doesn't seem to fit our depth, but the answer could be as simple as knowing already who we will start at the linebacker spots (Bryce Hager and Eddie Lackey, most likely) and wanting to get Nance on the field. Perhaps, and I'm speculating here, we might also be looking to something like a 3-4 with Nance on one edge?

The good news is that the situation behind those guys (and somewhat beside) seems to be getting clearer. According to Art Briles himself, who appeared on Smoaky's ESPN radio show this afternoon, incumbent starters Sam Holl and Ahmad Dixon will switch places, putting Holl in the Bear (nickel) spot and Dixon at safety. I buried the lede a bit on this one considering that's probably the biggest news of all (they are both presumptive starters at this point), but I did that for a reason. This was something rumored to be happening for quite a while, so getting confirmation puts the issue to rest.

Based on all of this, here's my latest projection for the defensive two-deep as we sit today. I'll update the page accordingly.


LE Terrance Lloyd (SR) Shawn Oakman (JR)
DT Terell Brooks (JR) Trevor Clemons-Valdez (SO)
NG Beau Blackshear (SO) Andrew Billings (FR)
RE Chris McAllister (SR) Javonte Magee (SO)
WLB Eddie Lackey (SR) Brian Nance (FR) OR
Aiavion Edwards (RS-FR)
MLB Bryce Hager (JR) Kendall Ehrlich (SO)
NB Sam Holl (SR) Prince Kent (SR) OR
Kiante Griffin (FR)
CB Demetri Goodson
Xavien Howard (RS-Fr)
DS Ahmad Dixon (SR) K.J. Morton (SR)

K.J. Morton (SR)

Terrence Singleton (RS-Fr)

CB Joe Williams (SR) Darius Jones (SR) OR
Tyler Stephenson (SR)

As usual, I'm doing a lot of hand-waving at certain position, most notably the second safety spot and at WLB behind Lackey. I'm keeping Nance there for now because I think he belongs on the two-deep somewhere, I just don't know where. Aiavion Edwards is a HS safety that has gained tremendous strength (squatting something like 600 pounds recently) and is listed now as a LB on the roster. With his speed, I think he would be perfect for the NB spot, but that's Holl's to lose at this moment.

In the defensive backfield, I have K.J. Morton moving to CS since Demetri Goodson was given his medical redshirt and is fully healthy once again. Morton will have to fight for that spot against Singleton and Terell Burt, though, both of whom are entering their second years in the program. Burt played sparingly in lieu of taking a redshirt this past year, and is undersized for a safety spot in this conference. We'll see how that plays out. The other corner is the stalwart Joe Williams, who will be trying to find off WR-turned-DB Darius Jones once again as well as Tyler Stephenson, who started in 2011 before missing most of last season due to undisclosed violations of team rules.