The 2012 defense was raided by NFL teams last season, and that means some fresh new faces will be on the field this year. Two of RFootball's best, Khaseem Greene and Steve Beauharnais, leave a gaping hole in the linebacker corps, while the secondary has just one returning player with experience. Today, let's break down some of the true freshman that have a chance to break the two-deep:
- Candidates: Eric Wiafe (DE), Kemoko Turay (DE), Josh Klecko (DT), Sebastian Joseph (DT)
On paper, none of the defensive line recruits seem to be a lock for playing time in 2013. While Coach Panagos did lose ironman Scott Vallone and troubled TE/DE Mike Larrow, the defensive line has the chance to be the strength of the defense this year. DT Darius Hamilton is set to take over Vallone's spot, and several possibilities remain for the other tackle position: Ike Holmes, Jamil Pollard, and Al Page all have the experience and talent to become a force in the middle. Julian Pinnix-Odrick also garnered some rave reviews this past spring.
At defensive end, Jamil Merrell should retain his spot as a double-team magnet on the outside. Listed as a preseason All-AAC first-team DE by Athlon, Merrell should be able to improve upon his 5.5 sack total from a year ago. Marcus Thompson anchors the other DE spot, and his experience should keep him as the starter. For depth, Myles Jackson and Max Issaka can spell the DEs for third down plays (David Milewski was recovering from an injury as well), and DT has plenty of bodies.
- Candidates: Lester Liston, Nick Internicola, Myles Nash (ATH), T.J. Taylor (ATH), Devan Carter (RB)
- Candidates: Nadir Barnwell (CB), Delon Stephenson (CB), Anthony Cioffi (CB), Bryant Gross-Amiento (S), Myles Nash (ATH), T.J. Taylor (ATH)