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Projecting the Depth Chart: Secondary

Expect plenty of mixing and matching with the corners and safeties.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Last week we re-familiarized ourselves with the contributors in the secondary for the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2017. It will be a key positional group if UC hopes to succeed, or at least exceed the understandably low expectations for the program in Luke Fickell’s first season. After all, so-so pass defense was a drain on the Bearcats a year ago, when they allowed 233.3 yards per game through the air.

Now that we know who is on the roster, its time to start figuring out who will fit in where.

Definite Starters

Tyrell Gilbert, S

Although Gilbert didn’t play the full season due to some injury issues, he was exceptional when he was on the field last year. With two interceptions and as many forced fumbles, along with a pile of tackles, he should be just what the Bearcats need to replace Zach Edwards, although he will likely line up at linebacker as well as safety.

Linden Stephens, CB

The two starting cornerbacks should have actually been decided, but someone else will have to fill in for Alex Thomas. Still, Stephens provides plenty of stability and effective coverage skills to carry one side of the field. He played in 11 games last year, starting in most of those, and should retain his spot once again.

Position Battles

There wasn’t supposed to be a competition for the second starting cornerback gig, but there is now. The front runners to line up across from Stephens are Grant Coleman and Christian Angulo, as the group at corner is a largely young group, with four true freshmen on the roster. Coleman, a senior, recorded 31 tackles and also snagged an interception in 11 games, while Angulo, a sophomore, saw more limited time and thus had a corresponding decrease in production.

There will also be a healthy competition for the second starting safety spot, but that was planned on. Carter Jacobs should be given the first crack at the job, but Davin Pierce, Malik Clements and Chris Murphy should not be overlooked.

Final Projection

First Team

Linden Stephens, CB

Grant Coleman, CB

Tyrell Gilbert, S

Carter Jacobs, S

Gilbert will play a number of positions most likely, as he fits the Mike Tyson mold and should be a nice replacement for him as well as Edwards. Stephens is a pure cornerback, so he won’t be shifting around, while Coleman and Jacobs may play more fluid starting roles.

Second Team

Christian Angulo, CB

Marquis Smith, CB

Malik Clements, S

Davin Pierce, S

A lot of the decisions made about the roster are more difficult to predict than others, as Fickell will no doubt be looking to see what he has in the summer before finalizing who will play where. That also means that he will more than likely shift players to different spots and positions, with Gilbert and Pierce being particular players with skill sets that match multiple roles.