December 10, 2010

Position analysis: Secondary

As we look ahead to next football season, GoldandGreenNews.com is doing a positional analysis to see what the recruiting needs remain for the Colorado State Rams. Today, we take a look at the cornerbacks and safeties of the Rams as we head into the off-season.

Who is leaving: The secondary really loses only two players from the 2010 squad, those being strong safety Travis Ford and cornerback DeAngelo Wilkinson.

Might seem sad to say, but losing Ford won't be too much of a blow to the CSU defense. He's a guy who always passed the eyeball test, but never panned out the way folks would have hoped, as Ford was a one of the highest rated recruits from the 2009 class.

Wilkinson, on the other hand, battled injuries both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, but still proved to be a solid cornerback. He finished this season, his first as a starter at CB after moving over from nickelback, with 27 tackles and 2 pass breakups.

Who will return: The secondary is where the Rams will be the most experienced in 2011, returning four starters - two at corner and two at safety.

Elijah-Blu Smith and Ivory Herd will be back, starting at free and strong safety, respectively. Smith is a devastating hitter and known to be quite the ball hawk, though he didn't have any interceptions in 2010 (CSU only picked off quarterbacks four times last season), he did force a fumble while recovering two more.

Herd, who can also deliver a blow, finished 2010 ranked third on the team in tackles with 81, had a pick and broke up two passes.

At cornerback, brothers Shaq Bell and Momo Thomas should both be at full health in 2011.

Bell got thrown into the mix as a starter a little earlier than was expected, taking over for Thomas when he went down with a shoulder injury four weeks into the season. Bell did well for a true freshman with 39 tackles.

Thomas and Smith have both had starting experience since 2008.

Moving on up: The two main guys to pay attention to are Ezra Thompson and Dominique Vinson. Thompson got to see a lot of time on the field for the Rams in 2010, backing up Herd at strong safety. He's been a player on the rise for about a year and a half and could possibly become a starter if he battles hard enough in the spring, as Thompson's playing time was often when Herd didn't appear to be giving 100 percent.

Vinson, a cornerback, is rather tall for his position at 6-foot. He had one of CSU's four interceptions in 2010, that coming in a close loss at San Diego State. With defensive scheme changes, Vinson, who transferred from Saddleback CC before last year, could become play one of the biggest roles in Tim Duffie's unit.

On board for 2011's recruiting class: Nadda, nothing, zip. At least in terms of players who are listed as defensive backs in our database. Davon Riddick is a guy I wouldn't mind seeing move to safety eventually with his size and how physical he is, but I doubt that ever happens, especially since he chose the Rams because how much CSU likes to run the football.

Who's out there: The Rams sure aren't winning any recruiting battles right now with defensive backs. Of 10 known offers, five have committed elsewhere, including Ladale Jackson, who shocked a lot of folks by picking Utah State over some impressive offers.

Early on, it looked as if CSU might nab 4-star cornerback Stefan McClure, but he has already taken three of his five official visits (Colorado, Oregon State and Washington) and has scheduled his last two to UCLA and Oregon. Doesn't look like CSU's 3-9 season is going to draw in a 4-star recruit like it did in 2009.

I think if the Rams will land a defensive back this class, it will be a more under-the-radar prospect.

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