A review of the defense:
DE: JR Chaun Walters brings an evil grin to my face. He was a starter last year but we expect big things from him in the coming year. He is a natural disruptor who has the speed to run past offensive tackles and a certain nastiness when he hits a man in the backfield. As you might guess from a guy who spells his first name "C-H-A-U-N" he has some classroom issues. (Note - my apologies to all of the Chaun's reading this). SO Joe Banducci will need to take a big step forward next year, as the other guys at this position don't have the talent to play at this level.
DT: Found my first need on the defensive end. Five guys, two of which will graduate next year, none of whom have skill or the potential to develop skill. The best of the lot is a redshirt freshman, Chuck Wayne, who was the #2759 recruit in his class. And he is not a success story like our man Oscar Gray.
ILB: Four guys here, none of them upperclassmen. I like this position a great deal. Jerry McCullough was a borderline Top 100 guy coming out of high school (#115) and he immediately started in the Pac 10. Bright, good tackler, instinctive, and able to shed blockers. It all translated to 84 tackles as a redshirt freshman. He will be a leader on defense this year. Scott Wilson redshirted last year, but has the makings of a good one. He has speed and acceleration that are normally associated with DBs. He also delivers a pop when he hits you. We have a third guy, Bryant Bruschi, who should see significant playing time.
OLB: Two guys who will play behind our inside linebackers. Seriously, we are going to have defensive issues since neither our DL or LBs have enough standout players to get after opponents. Neither of our OLBs are seniors. JR Brice Crocker will see time, just as he has for the last two years. He is plain vanilla, with his best attributes being his durability and leaping. So we know who to call on to block a field goal.
CB: 5 players, 1 senior. Not a very good group right now but should develop into an average collection of talent with experience. SR Alvin Brown is the leader at this position. He has started for the last two years and has 4 INTs and 36 pass deflections to his name. Alvin was supposed to be a difference-maker here (#29 recruit as a HS senior) but that hasn't happened yet. FR Ken Byrd will compete for the 2nd CB spot, but he is better fit as a nickel back. Right now he is more of an athlete than a shutdown corner.
S: Pretty decent group, especially compared to several other positions on this defense. Five players, four sophs and one senior. Greg Moore saw significant minutes as a freshman. We like his nose for the football and tackling ability. Coach on the field type. We need to keep him healthy. Noland King came out of nowhere last season to grab a starting job during the back half of his freshman year. He has a good motor and the ability to change directions on the fly very quickly. Unfortunately, he is not the most instinctive football player.
I'll throw the special teams guys in here as well:
K: JR Ron McMullen is the kind of kicker you love to have on your team. Very accurate, pretty decent leg strength. He is 57-62 over the last two years and is just about automatic inside 50.
P: SO Harry Dayne should be among the best punters in the land. I don't have a lot of pithy comments on punters, but at least I don't have to worry about this position for the next few years.