March 20, 2007

Last line of defense

As spring practice gears up to start again next week, let's take a look at perhaps the most critical unit for 2007: the defensive backs.

Changes abound in the Utah secondary. Gone is a consensus All-American who did a little bit of everything, a two year starter at safety, and two key contributors at corner, including a 5th year senior who was a team leader and the heart of the secondary.

With Eric Weddle, Casey Evans, Eric Shyne and Shaun Harper all graduating, there are huge holes to fill in the defensive backfield. Junior college transfers and some out-of-the-box thinking have the coaching staff believing Utah will be just fine in the secondary in 2007.

The task of replacing all-everything Weddle falls to Sean Smith. Smith spent most of his first two years at Utah playing receiver. Smith switched to corner late in 2006, and played in the dime package against BYU and in the bowl game against Tulsa.

He caught on quickly enough and showed enough ability that it will take a tremendous showing by the incoming corners to keep him out of the starting lineup.

Smith has great size for corner at 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds, and some might think that his size is too big to play such a demanding position, but he has great speed and overall athleticism, as long as he can learn proper technique and develop the ability to quickly change directions out of a backpedal, his size will not be an issue.

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