In the weeks leading up to spring football practice we’re going to be examining each position group and size up the competition for starting spots. For the full recaps, including analysis of the incoming freshman in the fall, please check out Vandal Nation at thevandalnation.com. The first in the series — defensive backs.
Departing players: Aaron Grymes, Tracy Carter, A.J. Annelus, Dion Bass.
Returning: Christian Whitehead (Sr.), Solomon Dixon (RS So.), Jake Hennessy (R Fr.), Jayshawn Jordan (So.), Brennett Rodseth (Sr.)
Coming in for spring – None
Departing players: Gary Walker, Thaad Thomspon, Ma’ne Manaea
Returning players: Trey Williams (Sr.), Bradley Njoku (Jr.), D’Mario Carter (Sr.), Tom Hennessey (Jr.), Russell Siavii (R Fr.)
At the cornerback position, with Tracy Carter not listed on the official roster it’s not sure what his status will be on the team in 2013, so we’ll operate as if he’s not coming back. That would mean Idaho would enter 2013 without either of its outside starters from 2012. Returning for spring ball though will be Solomon Dixon, who played well in limited time as an outside corner, and Jayshawn Jordan who played extensively in the nickel last season.
The biggest issue with Idaho’s returning slate of corners is the height factor. Dixon and Jordan both register at 5-foot-9 — senior Christian Whitehead registers at 5-foot-10. Dixon and Jordan might ultimately project better as inside corners.
At first glance for the safeties, the lack of depth and experience is startling with this unit. Trey Williams figures to be a key returnee at strong safety, as he alternated starts and playing time with Thaad Thompson at the spot last season. Bradley Njoku figures to be in play for the starting free safety job, both because of his experience and because he was listed on the two-deep there last season behind Gary Walker. D’Mario Carter provides a solid tackling ability, and could provide depth at both safety spots.
The status of Ma’Ne Manaea is up in the air considering he’s not on the official roster. Though there are a number of players not listed on the official roster who are still enrolled with hopes of re-joining the team. Manaea, one of the biggest signees for the class of 2012, suffered a season-ending foot injury early in fall camp last season and redshirted.
Without Manaea the Vandals will have four, maybe five safeties competing in the spring. There is always the possibility of corners moving to safety, or receivers or running backs switching to the other side of the ball, though there would be little indications of that happening until spring practice begins.
The other name to watch there is Russell Siavii, brother of former Idaho linebacker Rob Siavii. Russell redshirted last year and is listed at linebacker, but during fall practices last season he practiced with the safety unit. With Idaho signing five linebackers in 2013, all five of them likely to clog the top of the linebacker depth chart, it’s likely a move to safety for Russell is on tap.
Sean Kramer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org