As we look ahead to the 2014 season, as a group, there is slightly less talent and depth among the Auburn Tigers defensive backs than nearly any other area on the team roster. That statement is particularly true at cornerback – especially when you consider that Jonathon Mincy will miss at least some time in the August 30 season opener against Arkansas.
Mincy, a senior, is the most experienced cornerback on the roster and was a starter last year at the field corner position. This year, Mincy was expected to start at the boundary corner, a role Chris Davis handled for the Tigers in 2013. However, in the first week of fall practice, that role has gone to Joshua Holsey instead.
While Mincy is an adequate cover corner, his playmaking abilities have been somewhat lacking thus far. In 15 career starts, Mincy has only one career interception.
|BC||15||Joshua Holsey||5-11, 192||Junior||Fairburn, GA|
|25||Trovon Reed||6-0, 188||Senior||Thibodaux. LA|
|FC||6||Jonathon Mincy||5-10, 200||Senior||East Atlanta, GA|
|3||Jonathan Jones||5-10, 182||Junior||Carrollton, GA|
|FS||9||Jermaine Whitehead||5-11, 193||Senior||Greenwood, MS|
|23||Johnathan Ford||6-0, 199||Sophomore||Big Cove, AL|
|BS||24||Derrick Moncrief||6-2, 218||Junior||Prattville, AL|
|29||Brandon King||6-1, 213||Senior||Alabaster, AL|
|STAR||27||Robenson Therezie||5-9, 212||Senior||Miami, FL|
|26||Justin Garrett||6-1, 224||Junior||Tucker, GA|
Holsey, who played safety the majority of last season, has the inside track on the starting role opposite Mincy. The junior started six games as a true freshman in 2012 and led the squad by breaking up six passes. Last year, he collected 17 tackles and an interception. Holsey suffered a torn ACL last season, though he has recovered quickly and appears to be at full speed now.
An intriguing option at corner is Travon Reed, a senior that has spent the majority of his career as a wide receiver. Reed was considered a top-five national recruit as a defensive back before moving to offense. At six feet tall and 188 pounds, Reed’s size is an advantage at the position. Other corners in the mix to play include Jonathan Jones, TJ Davis, Joe Turner, Kalvaraz Bessent and Nick Ruffin.
The safety position is a bit more settled and is led by Jermaine Whitehead, who returns to the field safety position. Whitehead is the team’s second returning tackler from last season. He recorded 65 stops, 2.5 tackles for a loss, six pass breakups and two interceptions in 2013, and has started 27 games in his career.
The best bet to start at boundary safety is junior college transfer Derrick Moncrief. The junior is a physical presence in the defensive backfield at 6-foot-2 and 218 pounds, though he proved to have good ball skills at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he had three interceptions in two seasons. If Reed or another corner supplants Holsey at cornerback, Holsey would be an option at boundary safety as well.
Senior Brandon King has playing experience, including appearances in all 14 games last season, but the rest of the safety options are quite unproven. Johnathon Ford, Markell Boston and Stephen Roberts provide depth.
There is one final spot in defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson’s 4-2-5 scheme, and that is the Star – a hybrid safety/linebacker. Robenson Therezie returns after starting all 14 games last season and earning an honorable mention on the All-SEC team. In 2013, Therezie had 57 tackles, three tackles for a loss, and he led the team with four interceptions – including one that he returned 78 yards for a touchdown. To explain how athletic the 5-foot-9, 212-pound senior is, he could factor in as a punt returner this season. Justin Garrett is likely to back up Therezie.