Editor's Note: This is the seventh installment of an
eight-part series produced by the FSU Athletics Communications
Office looking at different position groups as the Bulldogs prepare
for their 2010 season opener on Friday, Sept. 3, at
Big Rapids, Mich. - New faces may abound, but the Ferris State University football team's defensive secondary could become one of the Bulldogs' most talented and deepest position groups before it is all said and done this campaign.
Five of the Bulldogs' top eight defensive backs and three of four likely starters on the week one two-deep have never stepped on the field for FSU.
Additionally, the three returnees among the initial top eight saw limited if any action a year ago.
The picture, however, is far from bleak.
To begin with, the Bulldogs will welcome back senior captain Chad Wilson (Howell) with open arms and expect him to emerge as the leader of the secondary. He missed all of last season after suffering an injury in preseason camp following an All-GLIAC Honorable Mention camapign in 2008.
A veteran player and three-year letterwinner, the 6-0 Wilson gives the Bulldogs an experienced returnee and one of the league's top potential DB's from his strong safety position.
"Chad is an intense player and we expect him to have a great year," said FSU Defensive Coordinator Duane Wilson. "He's a smart and intelligent player who reacts well.
"It will be great to see him back on the field after what happened a year ago," he added.
Chad Wilson provided one of the Bulldogs' biggest highlights in recent memory two years ago with his 75-yard game winning interception return in a come from behind triumph over Northern Michigan (9/27/08) at Top Taggart Field. For his efforts, he claimed GLIAC and D2football.com National Defensive Player of the Week laurels.
Besides Wilson, the Bulldogs also return sophomore cornerback Antwian Windmon (Chicago/Morgan Park), who earned the squad's Most Improved Player Award for spring ball. He also has the potential to be an all-league caliber performer and is projected to start at one corner. Windmon played in all 11 contests a season ago after transferring from Kentucky State.
"He's coming off an excellent spring and should give us a good cover guy on the outside," said Wilson.
The only other defensive back with experience among the top eight is sophomore Jamar Slade (Macomb/L'Anse Cruse North), who is likely to serve as Chad Wilson's backup at safety although he also has the ability to play the corner position. Slade saw action in seven games as a reserve in 2009 and made five tackles following a redshirt campaign in '08.
"Jamar should help provide depth and is one of our faster players on the team," said Duane Wilson. "He enjoyed a solid spring season and we're expecting him to perform well this fall."
A quartet of youngsters are also among the top eight projected players in the Bulldogs' youth movement. They include sophomore Mike Davis (Troy) along with redshirt freshmen Jonathan Flynn (Traverse City/West), John Purdy (Traverse City/West) and Devon German (Muskegon).
Davis is tabbed as one of the squad's top corners and was a surprise player in the spring. He's been in the program for two seasons, but has yet to see game action. However, the Bulldogs believe he has the ability to contribute and compete for a starting role.
Meanwhile, the duo of Flynn and Purdy are expected to challenge for a starting role at the safety position opposite Chad Wilson. The two prep teammates both redshirted last season while adjusting to the collegiate game. Flynn came out of spring ball as a starter after an outstanding showing with Purdy close behind.
German gives the Bulldogs another challenger at the corner position following a redshirt season a year ago. He's another returnee who had a competitive spring and could see action this fall.
The Bulldogs also added a trio of transfers in the secondary who should battle for action. They include Northwood transfer Courtney Tipton (Flint/Northern) along with a pair of junior college standouts in William Miles (Stockton, Calif./Tokay) and Jaime Berrera (Fremont, Calif./Washington-Fre), who's status remains in doubt.
Sophomore Arshaun Hall (Novi), a converted running back, is another Bulldog veteran with the potential to contribute.
The Bulldogs also signed several quality young defensive backs as part of the offseason recruiting push and hope they have the ability to challenge for time down the road.
"With Chad Wilson coming back and the way some of our younger guys performed in the spring combined with a couple of the kids we brought in, the secondary really could become one of the strengths of our team," said Duane Wilson. "It cound end up being one of the better position groups we have from top to bottom."
Next Installment: The "Countdown To Kickoff" series concludes on Thursday (Sept. 2) with a look at the special teams.