Here’s part two of Troy Calhoun’s views on his personnel going into camp, which will deal now with the defense (and has a few surprises):
Defensive line: Calhoun listed his three starters entering camp as Joseph Champaign, Nick DeJulio and Cody Miller. That leaves out Nick Fitzgerald, who started seven games last year as a freshman and did pretty well. But Calhoun praised the consistency of the top three in spring. He did say Fitzgerald got stronger in his upper body, which Calhoun said he needed to do. I’d assume Fitzgerald reemerges in the starting lineup at some point in August.
Linebacker: Alex Means is a given at one outside linebacker spot. At the other, Stephan Atrice is the leader, ahead of Jamil Cooks. Cooks is the talented junior who has gotten a lot of playing time the last couple years. He has a lot of upside, but he will be behind Means and Atrice to start camp.
“They were consistent in the spring,” Calhoun said.
At inside linebacker, James Chambers and Josh Kusan are the leaders. Austin Niklas, a senior who has played a lot, is also in the mix.
Defensive backs: Cornerback is set going into camp, with Chris Miller at one spot and Steffon Batts at the other. Safety is a lot more muddled.
Anthony Wooding had eight starts at safety last year, but Calhoun is not listing him as a starter. Brian Lindsay (who lost his job to Wooding early last season) and sophomore Christian Spears are on top of the depth chart, for now at least.
“I thought they were the two best safeties in the spring, as far as being there every day,” Calhoun said.
Wooding missed some time in spring practice due to injuries, which is an easy way to get in Calhoun’s doghouse. He’s another player who seems too talented to be a reserve when the games start, but Spears has the free safety job for now. Also, don’t forget Vanderbilt transfer Jay Fullam. He missed all of spring due to shoulder surgery.