JoeJuan Williams and LaDarius Wiley were stand out defensive backs for the Dores last year. Both are now on NFL rosters, the Patriots and Titans, respectively. Zaire Jones was suspended and then left the team. Their presence will be missed in the Vanderbilt secondary. However, according to Derek Mason (speaking to Athlon), “we are bigger and longer and have more depth than we’ve ever had.”
In a similar situation as the defensive line, the secondary has been able to take time developing their talented underclassmen by replacing starters with experienced transfers.
As it is now, these are predicted starters and reserves. However, if Brendon Harris, Max Worship, or Randal Haynie develop as better players in camp or are needed for their bigger frames, then they will get the start ahead of those listed at the top of the Depth Chart.
On the corners, the Dores added two transfers to fill the voids lost by Williams and Donovan Sheffield. Dontye Carriere-Williams Jr, a JUCO transfer (originally from Wisconsin), is 5-11”, 185lbs. He started 5 games as a true freshman at Wisconsin before transferring to Independence CC in Kansas.
Carriere-Williams was the #4 JUCO CB as rated by 247. He enrolled in January, giving him an entire semester to meld into the team. While he doesn’t possess the prototypical type body that JoeJuan Williams has, Carriere-Williams has Power 5 football experience and is highly rated.
Cameron Watkins will play as Carriere-Williams counterpart. He is a grad transfer from Illinois. Watkins started only seven games last year at Illinois, so that does not necessarily bode well for his play against the SEC. Watkins is 6’1”, 200lbs. He is a Nashville native, playing at Pearl-Cohn. Who knows, maybe we’ll have success with another Pearl-Cohn alum who transferred in from Illinois.
At the Safety positions, Tae Daley Jr and Frank Coppet Jr will step into roles left by Wiley (and the oft suspended Zaire Jones).
Daley is 6’0”, 190lbs Junior, and started seven games last year, playing in 12. He contributed to 45 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. He’s the type who will contribute to run stopping from the strong safety position, and in increasingly pass happy offenses, he will lend support to the middle of the field where offenses will try and take advantages of mismatches against linebackers. Daley is out of Georgia and was All State and a three star recruit.
Coppet is a RS Junior 5’11”, 185 lbs, and also started seven games. He contributed to 30 tackles and picked off the opposing QB three times. Coppet will play the free safety position (or whatever the defensive scheme calls the guy who lends over the top support to corners and nickels). He is out of St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, which is a football factory. He was All State in 2015 and a consensus three star. Hopefully he continues having a nose for the ball despite his slight frame.
Allan George is a 6’1”, 185lbs Sophomore out of Alabama. Last year he played the Nickel position, starting three games. He could easily slide over into a CB position if necessary. He contributed to 33 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. He was All State and a consensus three star coming out of high school
Brendon Harris, a 6’2”, 190lbs RS Freshman was one of the 12 true freshmen to play last year. He played in four games, giving him experience and maintaining his RS status. He was a Top300 player and consensus four star coming out of high school. It is easy to see why the coaching staff is high on the depth of this unit, because if he matures to his frame and potential, there won’t be a drop off in talent when Harris is on the field.
Max Worship, a 6’1”, 195lbs Sophomore is out of Cardinal Gibbons in Ft Lauderdale, FL. He played in 13 games last year. You may remember him for blocking a punt against Ole Miss. He will spell at the safety position, most likely as a run stopper and middle of the field enforcer.
Randall Haynie, a 6’0”, 190lbs RS Sophomore played in 13 games last year and recorded 15 tackles and one interception. He was a three or four star Athlete coming out of high school, depending on the service you look at. Looking at his position listing as an unspecified DB, he may step into the CB or Nickel spot.
On the experience side of things, the secondary is the most vulnerable unit, but they do have a lot of depth and the eight players who will see regular playing time, two are below six feet tall. Plugging in two transfers on the corners gives them good experience and allows the continual development of underclassmen who show promise.