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The strength of this year’s Wildcat squad is the defensive “back seven”.  The Cats return 4 linebackers and 3 defensive backs who started at least 2 games last season.  The top 6 tacklers are all back, 5 of whom are either defensive backs or linebackers.  

Secondary

Terry Williams, who was a great Wildcat DB in his playing days (2ndround draft pick of the NY Jets 1988), has built quite a resume for himself as BCU’s defensive backs coach.  During his tenure at Bethune, Williams has coached Buchanan Award winner and NFL Pro Bowler Rashean Mathis, All-Pro Safety Nick Collins, AP first team All-American and Buchanan Award finalist Bobby Williams, and All-MEAC first team performer Travis Roland.   Thankfully for the Cats the accolades for the secondary extend beyond individual awards.  The Wildcat secondary has held opponents to an under 50% completion rate in 5 of the past 7 seasons and they produce their fair share of turnovers year in and year out.  Last year, ball hawks Arkee Smith and Michael Williams recorded 11 interceptions from the safety position alone.  Smith

BCU's Michael Williams intercepts a pass

has since graduated but the Cats will look to M. Williams for leadership and production in the defensive backfield.   Although he did not start a single game in 2010, M. Williams finished the year with 6 INTs, was fourth on the team in total tackles, and was voted as a first team All-HBCU performer by BoxToRow/BASN. 

Returning starters Aaron Bagsby (FS) and Daniel Rhodes (CB) join M. Williams in the defensive backfield.  Bagsby and Rhodes ended 2010 5th and 6th respectively in total tackles.  DJ Howard started two games in 2010 before suffering a season ending injury.  Howard is a versatile athlete who can play both safety and corner.  3 Star recruit Dion Hanks participated in eight contests as a true freshman and will likely see increased playing time this year.  Jean Fanor, Cincinnati transfer Quincy Quetant, North Carolina Prep signee Marquis Drayton, and incoming true freshman Nick Addison are all likely contributors in this year’s secondary.

The one area of criticism for this group last year is that they did not make enough plays near the line of scrimmage.  The secondary and particularly the safeties will need to do a better job of recognizing and providing support against the outside zone and zone read plays that plagued the Wildcat defense a season ago.     Grade- B

Linebackers

Ryan Lewis (81 tackles, 4 ints, and 5 sacks) and Reggie Sandilands (81 tackles, 1 int, and 3.5 sacks) team up to lead what is arguably the best linebacking corp in all of HBCU football.  Lewis has been named as the preseason MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and a 2nd team All-American by the Sports Network.  Sandilands has received his share of preseason recognition as well being named on the first team All-MEAC defensive squad as well as on several watch list.  Lewis and Sandilands share a rather symbiotic relationship.  Both players are entering their third year as starters for the Wildcats and their height (6-1), weight (220), and playing styles are nearly identical.  Both players even have flowing dreadlocks hanging from their helmets as they chase down opposing running backs.  The superlative duo will be joined by returning starter Rock Angrand and capable backup Jarkevis Fields.  The linebackers possess great closing speed, they do a very nice job of shedding blockers, and they’re very instinctive.  Rutgers transfer Al-Ghaffar Lane will add more speed, athleticism, and depth to this already talented bunch.  There really are no glaring weaknesses amongst this group.   Our grade- A.

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