This week we turn our attention to the Tribe’s Defensive Backs. Led by Tom Clark (Cornerbacks Coach) and Trey Henderson (Safeties), this is yet another defensive group has plenty of depth. In the last two seasons, William and Mary has produced two Defensive Backs who are now on NFL rosters. The Cowboys drafted Cornerback B.W. Webb in the 2013 NFL Draft; recent alum and Safety Jerome Couplin was signed by the Detriot Lions as an undrafted free agent this year.
According to the Sports Network, at the end of last season, William and Mary and 2nd against the pass in the CAA, which was good enough to place the unit as the 21st best defense against the pass in the entire nation. Following a very successful year shutting down opposing Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers, the Tribe looks to continue their success this year.
Although the unit lost star and former first team All-CAA and All-American Jerome Couplin, the squad still returns loads of talent. Ivan Tagoe, one of the Captains of this year’s Tribe team, looks to lead this Defensive Back group. Tagoe is being moved to Free Safety this year in order to replace the hole left by Jerome Couplin’s departure to the NFL. Tagoe garnered 88 tackles last year, which was good for third on the team behind tackling fiend Jerome Couplin and run-stopper Luke Rhodes. Although Tagoe is stepping into a big role, we feel he has the talent to execute the job successfully, and more importantly, the coaches trust him as well.
In addition to Tagoe, Jared Velasquez will start at Strong Safety this year. Coming off of a knee injury a season ago in which he missed significant playing time, Velasquez figures to play a much larger role on this year’s defense. As some of you may remember, he did have a pick six in last year’s Homecoming game against James Madison that sealed the victory. That play marked the longest interception returned for a touchdown in school history (90 yards, at :46 seconds of this video).
Filling out the depth at Safety is Senior Frank Tamakloe, a former transfer from Wisconsin, as well as Richie DiPietro, a Redshirt Freshman from Olney, Maryland.
At Cornerback, the Tribe is led by DeAndre Houston-Carson (DHC). Last season, DHC finished with 62 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 interceptions. Going into DHC’s Junior season for the Tribe, Houston-Carson looks to take over as the team’s shutdown corner. Opposite DHC is Sophomore Trey Reed, a quick and shifty corner who is receiving his first shot as a starter on the squad. At nickel corner, the team seems to be leaning toward Sophomore Mike Harvey, a talented Defensive Back who saw action in 11 games last year. Also competing for the nickel job will be Redshirt Freshman Keanu Reuben, a standout in William and Mary’s Spring Game, where he caused one or two turnovers. Rounding out the depth at the position are senior Jesse McNeal and Redshirt Freshman Aaron Swinton.
To leave you with some fun facts: toward the end of the 2013 season, the Tribe faced four opponents whose offenses were ranked in the top twenty-five in the country (JMU, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Towson). In those four games, Tribe fans saw just how strong our defense truly was. Instead of faltering, the defense got stronger and shut teams down—the Tribe won 3 of the 4 games previously mentioned. The Defensive Backs played a large role in this run at the end of the year—ending with the Tribe just one game shy of an FCS playoff bid. During the 4-game stretch, the Defensive Backs allowed only 1 passing touchdown. Other than that, they held the high-powered offenses of New Hampshire, Delaware, and Towson in check.
The Tribe will look to continue their success against opposing offenses this year. If the Defensive Backs play to their potential, then this Tribe defense might become even scarier than we think it will be…if you can imagine that.
Thanks for reading and GO TRIBE!