April 01, 2012
It's been a very interesting off season in relation to the defensive backfield. Coach Heyward bolted north for more purple pastures, and OSU replaced him with NFL veteran Rod Perry. Corners Mishawn Cummings, Sean martin and Malcolm Marable have been suspended for off the field incidents and safety Josh LaGrone has again left the program. This on the heels of promising freshman safety Dax Dilbeck leaving the program last season.
While the numbers looked decent at first glance (2nd in Pac-12 with 214 ypg), as we dig deeper OSU finished tied for 11th with UCLA with 28 scores given up through the air. Their 7.4 yards per completion was 6th in the conference and pass efficiency defense ranked them 9th in the Pac-12.
Returners Jordan Poyer and Rashaad Reynolds highlight a very talented, but relatively young defensive backfield.
Jordan Poyer — Sr. 6-0 190 (Astoria, OR / Astoria)
Jordan has become one of the best shut down corners in the Pac-12 if not the nation. Named to the Pac-12 2nd team as a junior, NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper has ranked Jordan as his #2 senior corner in the class of 2013. Poyer's instincts separate him from others and make up for his lack of 4.3 speed. Poyer is poised for a fantastic senior season and should make life easier for the left side of the defense. Poyer led the team in interceptions (4) and break ups (12) in 2011.
Rashaad Reynolds — Jr. 5-10 185 (Los Angeles, CA / San Fernando)
The growth of Reynolds in his sophomore season was remarkable and he has become a very reliable corner opposite Poyer. His size is often brought into question, but his tenacity shouldn't; Reynolds was fifth on the team in tackles with 68 and had the most solo tackles (49). Reynolds is a pure athlete and like Poyer played quarterback in high school which has helped his knowledge of the game. Rashaad has put on five pounds over the off season and is a clear starter heading into spring ball.
Sean Martin — Jr. 6-0 183 (Corona, CA / Santiago)
His DUII arrest in February will determine where Martin stands on the depth chart to begin the spring, but as of now he is the best bet for a #2 spot behind the starters. Martin had shoulder surgery in 2010 and then suffered a season ending foot injury last year so his durability remains in question, but Martin has the tools to be successful and had a good fall camp last season. Getting through whatever suspension may come down is step one for Martin and after that it may just be a matter of opportunity.
Keynan Parker — Sr. 5-11 183 (New Westminster, BC / Thomas More Collegiate)
Parker has what u can't teach, speed. In fact he recently ran a 6.97 in the men's 60 and finished 4th in his final earlier this spring. Parker has yet to show break through potential and may very well be featured on special teams in the return game. Parker seems to struggle with technique, but has speed to recover if out of position. Coach Perry should greatly help getting his technique where it needs to be. Keep an eye on Parker, he should see the field at some point this season.
Ones to Watch
Mishawn Cummings — Rs.So. 5-9 185 (San Jose, CA / Foothill CC) - Currently serving an indefinite suspension for 'violation of team rules', Riley stated that Cummings could be back as he was being punished for internal violation and not a legal violation.
Ryan Handford — Sr. 5-9 197 (New Brunswick, NJ / Santa Ana JC) - Look for Handford to make a push. He started really picking up the Beaver's system last season and he could see a push for back-up duty this fall.
Larry Scott — Rs.Fr. 5-11 180 (Corona, CA / Centennial) - Scott suffered a knee injury early in Fall Camp. He will be limited to individual drills this Spring as he works his way back and through the rehab process.
Anthony Watkins — Sr. 6-1 218 (Burien, WA / Highline)
Watkins was solid at strong safety last season leading the team in tackles with 85. Where Watkins is strong in run support, he can improve in over the top pass defense. Some is due in part to the heavy emphasis OSU puts on safety run support, but Watkins gets caught with his eyes in the wrong spot at times. As a senior he has all the experience and knowledge he will need and with solid corners, Watkins should thrive at his strong safety position. NOTE: Watkins had shoulder surgery this winter and will not participate in Spring Camp. He is expected to be ready for Fall Camp.
Ryan Murphy — So. 6-3 209 (Oakland, CA / Oakland Tech)
Ryan Murphy saw ample time last season and showed glimpses of greatness. He's your prototypical sized safety and with his size brings great athleticism. Murphy finished 2011 with 29 tackles and a key goal line interception (his only one) against Washington which preserved a victory for OSU. Look for Murphy to really come out of his shell and begin to trust his instincts a little more. He was hesitant at times last year, but with another spring and fall under his belt I think Murphy will open a lot of eyes.
Tyrequek Zimmerman — So. 5-11 188 (St. Matthews, SC / Lawton (OK) )
Zimmerman has all the athleticism in the world and gained valuable game experience on special teams last season, playing in all 12 games and finishing with eight tackles. Zimmerman's ball skills are superior thanks to his background at receiver (recruited as a high-caliber receiver out of HS). The switch to safety has greatly benefit Zimmerman in terms of getting on the field early. While undersized, Zimmerman won't hesitate to lay the wood and plays with a great balance of smart/physical football. He's a star in the making.
Ashton turned heads throughout the fall on the scout team. Sources said that he was tenacious and never took plays off. He was awarded a scout team award this month for his efforts. The big question mark is whether he will play safety or linebacker for the Beavers. Ashton was recruited as a quarterback, where he played for a week before moving over to the defensive side of the ball. Definitely one to keep an eye on this Spring and Fall.