The biggest offseason battle on defense comes at the one spot without a returning starter, the star position, where Maurice Smith graduated. Two promising early enrollees, Richard LeCounte and Deangelo Gibbs, are getting looks, but at the moment it’s Tyrique McGhee, the rising sophomore cornerback, who’s in the lead.
Experience matters, of course, but there’s something else worth mentioning.
While Smith is 6-foot and 195 pounds, McGhee is a tad smaller at 5-foot-10 and 183 pounds.
Smart noted that ideally, the star position is served by bigger defensive backs since fighting off blocks from tight ends is customary. Gibbs, at 6-foot and 200 pounds, would actually seem to be the prototype for the position.
“If you’re out there playing on Charlie Woerner and he comes to block you, do you want a 160-pound guy or do you want a 205-pound guy?” Smart said. “It’s pretty obvious we’ve got to have a big guy. Deangelo is a guy who we know has the ability. Can he sustain, can he learn, can he do all the things he’s got to do?”
Sounds like the position is in a state of flux, in other words. I don’t know if we’ll see a true freshman in the starting lineup against Appalachian State there, but I sure wouldn’t be surprised if that changes as the season progresses.