With spring football practice well underway it is worth noting some of the key position battles…
2012 Navy Report Card: Defensive Backs
Defensive Backs: B
Despite a few rough games late in the year the Mids secondary ended the season ranked 40th nationally in pass defense. Naval Academy Prep school head coach J.P. Shevory told me that the 2012 plebe class which played for him the previous year was the most talented secondary he's ever worked with at the prep school. That proved to be true as three freshmen were list on the three-deep depth chart at field cornerback.
The leader and best player in the Navy secondary was senior Rover Tra'ves Bush. He earned First-Team All-Independent honors. Bush ended his career starting his last 23 games. He finished second on the team in tackles with 88 and led the Mids with five pass defensed. Tra'ves demonstrated terrific instincts and playmaking ability. He had a huge game in the overtime road win against Air Force after suffering a concussion against San Jose State. Against Air Force he led the team with a season-high 12 tackles and recovered a fumble in the second quarter and returned it fifthteen yards.
Sophomore corner Parrish Gaines has made 18 consecutive starts since being inserted in the lineup as a plebe. Gaines (69 tackles, 2 int, 2 pass defensed) earned honorable mention All-Independent team honors for his much improved play this season. He led the Mids in tackles with 12 in holding San Jose State's high powered offense without a touchdown. His biggest play was when he sealed the win over Indiana (31-30) intercepting a pass with 1:38 left in the game.
Freshman Kwazel Bertrand (39 tackles, 1 sack, 4 pass def., fumble rec) emerged as the starting cornerback in the second half of the year. He played in twelve games and started the last seven games. He made his first against Indiana where he played well posting seven tackles and breaking up two passes. He was named the FBS Independent Defensive Player of the Week for his play against Texas State. Bertrand made seven tackles and sacked quarterback Shaun Rutherford on a fake field goal attempt. Kwazel was a starting cornerback last season at the Naval Academy Prep school. Bertrand had a few tough games against Troy and Arizona State but he had an impressive plebe year.
Bertrand replaced fellow plebe Quincy Adams, his teammate at NAPS, at cornerback. Adams replaced injured starter Jonathan Wev (5 tackles) in the opener against Notre Dame. He started against Penn State and made five tackles with two passes defensed. Adams once against replaced Wev the following week after Wev suffered a career ending concussion against VMI. Quincy made a terrific one-handed interception late in the game. Against Air Force Adams posted five tackles and recovered a fumble. Adams (10 games, 28 tackles, 1 INT, 4 pass def., fumb rec.) injured his shoulder midway through the season and he missed time. He was replaced by Bertrand. Adams needs to improve his technique and more fully develop his cover skills. His backpedal has improved since his 2011 season at NAPS. He has an excellent upside.
At free safety sophomore Chris Ferguson suffered through an injury plagued season. Ferguson failed to make many plays on the ball as he did during his plebe season. He started the first five games before he suffered an ugly elbow injury against Air Force. Ferguson missed the next three games. Chris was in and out of the lineup the rest of the year. Ferguson played in nine games and started seven. He made 37 tackles and forced a fumble. Junior Wave Ryder replaced Ferguson in the starting lineup. Wave played in every game and started six at free safety. Ryder had his best season with 53 tackles and an interception. Ryder isn't that great in coverage but he will hit anything that moves.
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