MSU's coaches have options in the defensive backfield, lots of them. Let's start with the cornerbacks, a group that lost just one key player, Marcus Washington, and should be even better than last year.
In 2009, the corners accounted for seven interceptions – six of them by Corey Broomfield, who will be a third-year sophomore this fall. He was limited in the spring due to offseason shoulder surgery, but he's expected to be back at full speed for the season and step right back into his right corner spot.
Or will he? There will be competition.
Broomfield will be pushed by the likes of third-year sophomore Louis Watson and sophomore Johnthan Banks. Yes, Banks was a free safety last year, but that was mostly out of necessity. He could play a significant role at corner, his natural position, and he worked there some in the spring. With more depth at the safety spots this year, Banks could pull double duty or go back to corner full-time.
Senior Maurice Langston should hold down the left corner spot and will be backed up by junior Damein Anderson, who's the most experienced DB (22 games) but lost his starting job to Langston last year. Langston has said he feels a lot more comfortable in the scheme this season; he missed all of spring and August camps, along with the first five games, because of a drug arrest.
Now as to those safeties. Banks replaced Zach Smith at free safety last season after the latter went down with a concussion. Smith, a junior, is back and apparently healthy enough to play. Junior strong safety Charles Mitchell is the heavy-hitting stalwart back there – he started 12 games and finished with 64 tackles, most among the DBs. He showed no signs in the spring of giving up his starting role.
But Mitchell and the other experienced safeties should have good help. Coach Dan Mullen said redshirt freshman Dennis Thames has made great progress, and he was also impressed with the play this spring of redshirt freshman Nickoe Whitley.
As he did last season, junior Wade Bonner will play the nickel.
The DBs are deep enough that they should have no problem weathering the loss of redshirt freshman corner Arceto Clark, who was moved to receiver late in the spring and was well down the depth chart anyway.