SFA Football 2012 Preview: Defensive Backs
Aug. 23, 2012
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Anchored by three-time all-Southland Conference cornerback Josh Aubrey, the Stephen F. Austin secondary looks as though it is firmly in line to have solid season as the last line of defense for the Lumberjacks.
SFA picked off just 10 passes in 2011, with just six coming from defensive backs; however, with the corner combination of Aubrey and Ben Wells, the Lumberjacks could stack up on the edges with any receivers they came across. But Wells has moved on, leaving Aubrey and SFA's two starting safeties from a year ago - Jordan Aubrey and Caleb Nelson - back to pick up where they left off a year ago.
Aubrey has earned all-conference honors in each of his first three seasons as a Lumberjack, establishing a reputation as one of the most physical corners in the Southland and having had a hand in nine turnovers in his career, which is the most on the SFA roster. He was fourth for the `Jacks last season in tackles and has managed at least 55 tackles from his corner slot each year he's been on the field.
His twin brother, Jordan, had a breakout year of his own last season at safety, ranking second for SFA with 97 tackles, five of which came behind the line of scrimmage. That came on the heels of an injury-plagued 2010 season that saw his season cut short just three games into the year due to an injury. With two years of eligibility remaining , the SFA coaches have plenty of confidence that he will be a key part of the secondary each of those seasons.
The `Jacks also sport an all-conference free safety in Caleb Nelson who has played in all 23 of SFA's games over the past two seasons. He's picked off a pass each of those years and was a huge part in helping the SFA defense hold its opponents to just 177 yards through the air per game last year.
Early on the early candidate to replace Wells at cornerback opposite of Aubrey is junior Trey Vallier. He played in all 11 games in 2011 as a true freshman, totaling 19 tackles while spelling both Aubrey and Wells throughout the year. At 6-feet tall he has the size and length that is more typically found in safeties at the FCS level, but brings enough athleticism to be able to survive on the edge as a corner.
Keavon Madison and Demundre Freeman are early candidates to fall in behind Aubrey and Vallier at the corners, while SFA also has a handful of safety candidates that include Andrew Aggery, Chris Bailey and Patrick Martin. Other young backs include former high school teammates from Chapel Hill (Tyler, TX): safety Avery Henderson and cornerback Anthony Kincade, while Cedar Hill's (TX) Freeman is joined by former high school teammate, safety JC Franklin.
Aug. 9 - Quarterbacks