Thursday, July 29, 2010

Taking Inventory: The Defensive Line

There are two ways to look at the defensive line this year. On one hand, it's very difficult for a defensive front to remain as dominant as they were a year ago when you lose a player like Jerry Hughes. Filling the shoes of the departed two-time All-American end may be a nearly impossible task. On the other hand, the Frogs do return three starters from last year, and how many people out there thought we'd find an adequate replacement so soon when Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz both left after the 2008 season?

The leading candidate to take over as the Frogs' main pass-rushing threat is 5th-year senior Wayne Daniels. Starting at right DE last year, Daniels recorded 5 ½ sacks and earned 2nd Team All-MWC honors. He's a preseason 1st Teamer this year, so clearly the media that covers the MWC expect him to shine in 2010.

Coming out of spring practice, the battle to replace Hughes at left end was not completely decided. Junior Braylon Broughton, who at 6'6", 272lbs is a freak athlete with nearly unlimited potential, has to be the favorite of optimistic Frog fans. His playing time increased as last season wore on, and if things finally click for him this fall- watch out. His main competition for the starting job is sophomore Ross Forrest, a former walk-on out of Odessa Permian who missed almost all of last season after being injured in the Virginia game.

Two more names to look for in the rotation at DE are senior Clarence Leatch and redshirt freshman Stansley Maponga. Leatch, who recorded 2 sacks a year ago, has really impressed me the few times that I've ventured over to an open practice, so I still think he could make a major impact. But then again, what do I know? Maponga, who has also spent some time at DT, has a lot of buzz about him and is expected to be a future star on this line.

Both starting tackles from a year ago return in the big, hole-stuffing senior dueo of Cory Grant and Kelly Griffin. Like Daniels, Grant was 2nd Team All-MWC a year ago and a preseason 1st Team selection. He recorded 2½ sacks and 5½ tackles for loss. Griffin, who was first a starter as a true freshman in 2007, also recorded 5½ tackles for loss last year.

Behind Grant and Griffin will be sophomores Jeremy Coleman and DJ Yendrey, both of whom had 2 sacks as freshmen a year ago. Yendrey, who was a surprise impact player at defensive end as a true freshman last year, has switched to jersey #94 and has made the move inside to tackle, where some might consider him a tad undersized at 262lbs. We thought he might've been undersized last year, too, but he quickly proved that he plays much bigger than he looks. Coleman, who was a very highly-regarded recruit out of the Houston area, is a prime candidate to have a breakout season, in my humble opinion.

In addition to Maponga, there are three more redshirt freshmen who will look to break into the rotation along the defensive line this year. Ray Burns- a tackle- and end Bryant House make up two-thirds of the "Maud Squad" (along with OT James Dunbar), the high school teammates from tiny Maud HS (a 1A school) who decided to remain together in college. Jon Koontz, a walk-on from Aledo, will also add depth to the line.

The Frogs welcome three true freshmen defensive linemen this year, and you'll likely see one of them this fall. David Johnson, the red-haired tackle from Argyle, first captured our attention with his youtube weight-lifting videos (370lb power clean? Check) and graduated early to take part in spring practice. I'd look for him to get some snaps this year. Blake Roberts, who was recruited out of Tyler Lee as both an end and a linebacker, was given jersey #91 so I'd expect him to add weight to his 6'4", 225lb frame and eventually be coming out of a three-point stance. Clifton Murphy out of Little Elm was initially slated to greyshirt this year (meaning he'd attend a junior college before transferring to TCU in January) has now been granted a scholarship for the fall and will join the Frogs with the rest of the class.


Spit Purple said...

What's the story on Murphy getting a scholarship? Does that mean that we lost someone to open that spot?

These breakdowns are great by the way.

Lyle Lanley said...

Justin Isadore and Henry Niutei both left the program over the offseason, so one of those two open scholarships went to Murphy.

Spit Purple said...

Any publishable details on their departures?

Jimmiemac said...

Isadore transferred to SFA to be closer to his kid. Niutei graduated and wasn't offered a ship to go to grad school.

Jimmiemac said...

Also Chris Hawkins did not make it in.

Texas Hammer said...

Big, hole-stuffing...giggle.