John Denton's Knights Insider: Season Preview Part 8 of 9 - Defensive Backs

Aug. 3, 2010

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Previous Positional Previews: QB | RB | WR | OL | TE | DL | LB

By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Here is a breakdown of UCF's defensive secondary, arguably UCF's most promising position because of the enormous potential of cornerback Josh Robinson and safety Kemal Ishmael.

Training camp opens Aug. 5 and the Knights kick off the regular season on Sept. 4 at Bright House Networks Stadium against South Dakota.

POSITION: Defensive secondary

PROJECTED STARTERS: CB Josh Robinson (5-10, 186, So.); CB Emery Allen (5-9, 183, RSr.); SS Darin Baldwin (5-11, 207, Sr.); FS Kemal Ishmael (5-11, 194, So.).

KEY RESERVES: Justin Boddie (6-2, 194, Sr.); A.J. Bouye (6-0, 177, So.); Jarrett Swaby (6-1, 189, RFr.); Reggie Weems (6-0, 191, Sr.).

PLAYER TO WATCH: Josh Robinson. He proved himself to be a future star last season by leading all freshmen in country in interceptions with six. The six picks turned out to be a freshman record at UCF, bettering the five intercepted by former Knight and current Pittsburgh Steeler Joe Burnett. Robinson was a unanimous Freshman All-American pick and he also had 14 passes defended. He's worked hard in the offseason to become more of a complete corner, one who assists more in stopping the run and one who makes the routine plays in the pass game as well as the spectacular ones.

STRENGTHS: Darin Baldwin (32 tackles and seven pass breakups last season), Emery Allen (34 games played), Reggie Weems (38 games played) and Justin Boddie have plenty of experience and Robinson and Ishmael proved themselves to be two of Conference USA's best defensive backs. Ishmael impressed coaches with his knowledge of the game and recognition and his quick growth allowed the Knights to move Derrick Hallman back to linebacker.

WEAKNESSES: Because running the ball against the Knights was often hopeless last season, teams often took to the air exclusively. That led to some inflated passing numbers at times. But the group hopes to make significant progress this season by keeping tighter coverage on receivers and stopping the yards after catch. The return of Allen from an injury should help on the outside, while the emergence of A.J. Bouye and redshirt freshman Jarrett Swaby should shore up the depth. And if Robinson and Ishmael can make another big step as sophomores, UCF could have an elite secondary once again.

PLAYER QUOTE: ``I think I'm better mentally. I'm still working on things athletically like the deep ball and breaking up the three-step ball, but I feel like I'm much further along mentally now than I was. Coach (Dave Huxtable) stressed to me that if I'm going to be a shutdown corner I have to be a better all-around player. I can make mistakes, but I have to correct them, and that's what I plan to do.'' - Josh Robinson, cornerback


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John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.