This is another case, somewhat like the linebackers, where the depth is thin, but you somewhat have to ask yourself why that is. I’ve decided to split this up into who I think plays safety and who plays cornerback, despite the fact that I know that the defensive backs all cross-train to be able to play multiple positions.
The lone returning starter that makes you feel good is Jah’Shawn Johnson. He is still woefully undersized, but he’s not afraid to hit. His other biggest detriment is speed. He’s fine for the most part, but when he couldn’t catch D’Onta Foreman, who isn’t slow, but he’s 240 pounds or whatever, you’d somewhat hope that Johnson can catch him. The thing about Johnson is that he’s fearless and that’s what separates him from everyone else that plays safety.
ROSTER RECAP: The Graduates | The Juniors | Defensive Line | Linebackers
The other name that popped up during the year was Kisean Allen, a walk-on safety that started a handful of games while Keenan Ward was out with a broken hand. As far as his play is concerned, I think he was okay, I hardly ever focus on the safeties because the camera usually cuts off any deep safeties unless the pass is a deep throw. It’s just so hard for me to tell. Allen had 43 tackles on the year, which ended up being 6th on the team, but he also had no pass break-ups.
I would love to know why Payton Hendrix doesn’t get snaps, much like at linebacker, Jamil Johnson and Christian Taylor, what is it about Hendrix as to why he can’t get on the field. My guess is that they all have the physical gifts to play, but lack the technical aspect. Just a guess, but when a walk-on sophomore safety is playing ahead of you, something’s not exactly right.
New players that should make a difference, so long as they’re playing at safety are Vaughnte Dorsey, Kevin Moore and Willie Sykes. Dorsey was a surprise addition (at least for me) and he’s a hard of a hitter that I’ve seen on the team and he’s got some size to him that most of the other safeties don’t have. A 200 pound safety is a novel idea. Moore played a ton on special teams, in fact, you may remember he recovered that attempted onside kick from Baylor and looked sure-handed as the day is long. The moment wasn’t too big for him. Moore was originally recruited as a linebacker, and he may have been a tweener last year, not big enough to play linebacker and too big to play safety, but they sure as heck played him a lot in special teams. I think the staff really loves Moore. And Sykes spent the year redshirting and playing the scout team as a transfer from Arkansas where he played as a true freshman and then decided to walk-on and transfer to Texas Tech, like Eli Howard. I don’t know a ton about Sykes, but he played in 12 of 13 games for Arkansas, mostly on special teams like Moore. That’s a good sign.
If Moore sticks here and Sykes and Dorsey can play, then you’ve got a lot more options. Oh, and I could also envision Octavious Morgan playing safety too, but I’d really like to see him stay at cornerback. Anyway, with Johnson, Moore, Sykes, Dorsey and Allen, that gives you five safeties as part of a theoretical rotation, which is better than 1.5, which is what I’ve felt like this team has had for quite some time.