Football embraces young blood on the defensive side of the ball

Article Originally Published by Matthew Suarez on North Texas Daily

As the season opener approaches, the North Texas football team has worked to address questions pertaining to the defensive side of the ball after losing two starting linebackers and corners in the offseason.

With fall training camp coming to a close, Mean Green head coach Seth Littrell commented on the current state of the defense.

“Defensively we’ve had to get a bunch of young guys ready to go in there and take snaps to build back some of that chemistry,” Littrell said. “We lost a lot of productive players this past season.”

Littrell elaborated on some of the players that have stepped up to the linebacker position, naming athletes such as sophomore KD Davis, junior Tyreke Davis and freshman Kevin Wood. North Texas graduated former starting linebackers Brandon Garner and Ejodamen Ejiya– leaving two pivotal positions vacant.

“It’s been really good to get some of those young guys at linebacker, [KD Davis], [Tyreke Davis] and [White] looked really good,” Littrell said. “Really adds a different strength to our defense and I think a little more speed at that position. Definitely going to lose some productivity but those guys have proven that they’re extremely smart and have made good plays.”

Littrell also talked about the secondary by pointing out players had stepped up to fill in for former cornerbacks Nate Brooks and Kemon Hall, consisting of junior defensive back Cam Johnson and graduate transfer defensive back Nick Harvey.

“We lost two really good productive corners this past year,” Littrell said. “I feel like [Johnson]’s a guy that’s really stepped up and done really good things this fall camp. [Harvey], newcomer coming in and he’s really picking up the defense quickly.”

Last season, Johnson recorded 26 tackles (16 solo) along with two pass break-ups. As for Harvey, he spent his first four collegiate seasons playing corner for Texas A&M where he eventually led the Aggies in pass break-ups (10). After the 2017 season, he transferred to South Carolina after earning his undergraduate degree in University Studies.

Harvey had registered nine tackles with the Gamecocks before suffering a season-ending injury. After recovering,  he was granted a sixth season of eligibility and decided to bring his talents to North Texas for the 2019 season.

Another graduate transfer defensive back that joined this offseason is Dominique Harrison. The Houston native recently transferred from Arizona State and played in eight games last season.

“[Harrison] is also doing well at the nickel spot, he came in as a corner, but they switched him to nickel and he’s doing pretty good at that spot,” senior safety Khairi Muhammad said. “[Harvey] has been very solid on the outside at the corner position– I think they can help us win for sure.”

In regard to the defensive line, senior defensive end LaDariusHamilton opened up about his goals and expectations for the season. One of his goals was to be undefeated in the state of Texas, win the Conference USA West division and secure a victory in a bowl game.

“First goal is to beat [Abilene Christian], second is to be undefeated in the state of Texas,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton emphasized his habit of consistently staying after practice to train. The 6-foot-3-inch, 260-pound edge rusher will be heading into his final season with the Mean Green after being named first-team All-Conference USA last year.

“Each and every day after practice I’m trying to get some guys to get some extra work,” Hamilton said. “Just to fine-tune some things we might need to work on.”

Hamilton also expressed confidence that the North Texas defense will still be a force to be reckoned with despite the fresh faces being implemented into the starting lineup.

“Even though with the loss of a lot of great players on defense, I feel like some guys have stepped up and filled those shoes,” Hamilton said. “I feel like confidence comes with preparation, working hard each and every week, so the more we continue to work each and every day, that confidence will grow from there.”

Featured ImageHead Coach Seth Littrell speaks at the preseason press conference in the Athletic Center on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. Image by Jordan Collard

Source: North Texas Daily