Depth-chart analysis: Defensive backs


With Georgia Tech’s spring practice beginning Monday, we’ll take a look at each position group and how the depth stacks up for the Yellow Jackets. Players will be rated as starting, competing or depth.

All five starters from 2016 return, giving the Jackets solidity in the secondary. The intrigue is which young players will emerge to take backup jobs and be ready to start in 2018.

Lawrence Austin: Starting

The nickel back was ACC defensive back of the week against Virginia Tech and will be in a leadership position as a senior.

Lance Austin: Starting

The two-time ACC defensive back of the week led the ACC in passes defensed with 15. It won’t be much of a surprise if more game-changing plays are in store.

Step Durham: Starting

Durham fought injuries last season, but the cornerback had a solid first season as a starter, finishing second on the team in pass breakups with six.

Corey Griffin: Starting

Griffin had one of the best seasons of any player on the team, a strong tackler who excels in run support.

A.J. Gray: Starting

In his first season as a starter, Gray didn’t make as many impact plays as expected, but he is a star on the rise.

Jaytlin Askew: Depth

Askew, a freshman who enrolled early, turned down scholarship offers from Auburn, Clemson and Florida State to play cornerback for the Jackets.

Gentry Bonds: Depth

An early enrollee, the freshman Bonds will get his feet wet in the spring, giving him a big leg up on playing time at backup cornerback next season.

Christian Campbell: Depth

He has the athletic ability, but needs practice time at safety after switching from quarterback last spring. Unfortunately, he’ll miss spring practice after having surgery, Johnson said.

Jarrett Cole: Depth

Cole redshirted last season and would do well to gain from spring practice with a talented group of defensive backs coming in this summer.

Jalen Johnson: Depth

He will miss the spring after having surgery, according to Johnson. The safety has been a contributor on special teams.

Shaun Kagawa: Depth

He has been an impact player on special teams since his freshman season and will try to fight for more time on defense.

Ajani Kerr: Depth

The transfers of cornerbacks of Meiko Dotson and Dorian Walker have given Kerr a chance to get on the field more quickly, and he has the ability to do it.

Lamont Simmons: Depth

After having sat out the previous two seasons (redshirt at USC and transfer), Simmons made a strong impression as a backup last season at cornerback. He’ll push Lance Austin and Step Durham hard.

Incoming freshmen: Tariq Carpenter, Kaleb Oliver, Avery Showell, Tre Swilling, Dameon Williams.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Kentucky Basketball: Quade Green aimed to ‘knock their head off’ and did against ETSU
Kentucky Basketball: Quade Green aimed to ‘knock their head off’ and did against ETSU

LEXINGTON, Ky. — East Tennessee State, its coach admitted afterward, came to Rupp Arena on Friday night believing it might catch seventh-ranked Kentucky sleeping after a near-miss Tuesday against Kansas. And it sure looked like the Buccaneers were right when they raced out to an 18-8 lead. “Nah, nah, nah,”...
Baylor coach Scott Drew reaches 300 wins after beating Alcorn State
Baylor coach Scott Drew reaches 300 wins after beating Alcorn State

Baylor basketball coach Scott Drew earned his 300th victory on Friday night after a 78-61 win over Alcorn State in Waco. When he was hired, few expected this day would come. Drew took over one of the biggest rebuilding jobs in the history of collegiate sports in 2003. The Bears were held without nonconference games in 2005-06 and had scholarship...
USA TODAY expert predicts Texas Tech to upset TCU
USA TODAY expert predicts Texas Tech to upset TCU

Texas Tech will face an injury-plagued TCU team on Saturday. One expert thinks it will be enough for the Red Raiders to pull off a shocker against the No. 12 Horned Frogs. USA TODAY’s Lindsay Schnell predicted Texas Tech to defeat TCU in Lubbock on Saturday. The Horned Frogs opened as a touchdown favorite over the Red Raiders. Schnell...
Georgia reaches out to Florida safety commit Randy Russell
Georgia reaches out to Florida safety commit Randy Russell

DAYTONA, Fla. — Florida safety commit Randy Russell has heard from three schools since Jim McElwain’s departure. The 4-star safety from Miami Carol City told SEC Country that Georgia, Michigan and Louisville reached out to him in hopes of securing an official visit. But at this time, Russell is locked in with Florida...
Chris Smith provides bright spot for UCLA basketball
Chris Smith provides bright spot for UCLA basketball

It’s not that the UCLA basketball team hasn’t had much written about it lately. Thanks to a shoplifting scandal in China that prompted tweets from the president, the Bruins have been no stranger to the spotlight. It’s just that very little of that news has been positive. Chris Smith changed the tone of that...
More Stories