Texas S Caden Sterns and BJ Foster with new DC Chris Ash
The Texas defense took a step back last season mainly due to a large number of injuries all over the lineup. Caden Sterns has been a star for the Longhorns since he stepped onto the field as a freshman but fell victim to the injury bug last year as a sophomore. Foster is another talented safety from the same class as Sterns and will be asked to help replace Brandon Jones, a third-round pick by the Miami Dolphins.
Texas, needing to capitalize on a talented roster, hired Chris Ash to be their new defensive coordinator. This is an important hire for both Sterns and Foster, as Ash will be the DC/safeties coach. Ash has worked with several talented safeties in his career at Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Arkansas, and has a penchant for improving passing defenses as a defensive coordinator (he even produced two draftable DBs from Rutgers).
With Ash at the helm, Sterns can get back on track as a star safety, and Foster can enjoy a breakout season out from under the shadow of Brandon Jones. The defense just has to stay healthy.
USC DBs with new DC Todd Orlando
Todd Orlando got a bad rap from last season at Texas, and in my opinion, shouldn’t have been fired but nevertheless, USC got an outstanding hire with Todd Orlando. Texas fans hate Orlando and his penchant for blitzing, but Orlando was extremely innovative with his defensive packages and position-less player innovation in the Big 12.
The boon for the USC defensive backs, consisting of mainly Olaijah Griffin, Talanoa Hufanga, Isaiah Pola-Mao, and Chris Steele (all of whom are great prospects in their own right), are the assistant coaches that are joining Orlando in USC. Donte Williams is joining the Trojans as cornerbacks coach and Craig Naivar is coming along as the safeties coach.
Williams spent the last two seasons as the CB coach for the Oregon Ducks, and Naivar was the safeties coach at Texas under Orlando, helping recruit and develop the aforementioned Brandon Jones, Caden Sterns, and BJ Foster. With Orlando at the helm with two outstanding position coaches, the defensive backs at USC will take a step forward in 2020.
Florida State S Hamsah Nasirildeen & CB Asante Samuel Jr. with new DC Adam Fuller
Hamsah Nasirildeen is an elite safety prospect already and looks to be the next star FSU DB in the NFL. However, he starred on an FSU team that underperformed, causing his performance to fly under-the-radar by many. Asante Samuel Jr. was much of the same way, playing very well on a very poor team. Under new HC Mike Norvell and new DC Adam Fuller, the team and defense will likely rebound.
Fuller has experience as a safety coach, producing Malik Gant while at Marshall. The biggest coup Norvell+Fuller pulled off was luring DBs coach Marcus Woodson from Auburn. Woodson helped develop 2020 first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene as well as Daniel Thomas and Jamel Dean and helped develop the Auburn secondary into a lethal force. Fuller and Woodson will help turn around a program that ranked 90th in total defense and 119th in passing yards allowed.
Related | 2021 NFL Draft: Is safety Hamsah Nasirildeen the next Simmons?
Syracuse DBs with new DC Tony White
Syracuse’s 2019 did not meet expectations after their 10-3 2018 season. Dino Babers decided to clean house, moving OC Mike Lynch to RB coach and firing DC Brian Ward. Tony White comes over from Arizona State to become the new DC for the Orange and will implement the 3-3-5 scheme he learned from Rocky Long at San Diego State.
Syracuse’s DB room returns plenty of top-notch talent in S Andre Cisco, CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, and CB Trill Williams, despite Cisco and Melifonwu getting hurt in 2019. White developed elite defensive back play at Arizona State last season with S Aashari Crosswell, CB Jack Jones, CB Kobe White, and developed NFL-caliber defensive backs at San Diego State in Damontae Kazee, Leon McFadden, and J.J. Whittaker. Each of Syracuse DBs are impressive athletes who need that little extra step to get them on the right track to being top-notch prospects.
USF CB KJ Sails with new DC Glenn Spencer
Washington State LB Jahad Woods with new DC Jake Dickert
Memphis CB TJ Carter with new DC Mike MacIntyre