Spring practice begins this week so we will breakdown each position group as we gear up for football season. Note: We will not guess on what impact freshmen who are not on campus yet will have on the team.
Position Coach: Da’Quan Bowers
Key departures: DT Kelvin Pinkney (saw action in 11 games), DT Kevin Kegler (12 games), DT Blake Green (12 games), DT Thad Mangum (12 games), DE Ryan Thaxton (12 games).
Key returnees: DE Tramel Logan (Saw action in 12 games), DE Jason Vaughn (11 games), DE Rashawn Yates (12 games), DE Darrien Grant (nine games),
Key additions: DL Clyde Pinder Jr. (North Carolina), DE Jatorian Hansford (Missouri), DL Rashad Cheney (Minnesota), DL Nick Bags (Temple),
The Bulls defensive line will have a lot of new faces with the addition of four transfers and the departure of 59 total games played in 2021, but Da’Quan Bowers is looking to improve on a unit that only registered nine sacks last season. That’s only two more than the pandemic-altered 2020 season and only Blake Green registered more than one on the defensive line.
Former DC Glenn Spencer’s alignment could be to blame for the lack of consistent pressure and incoming DC Bob Shoop implementing a base 4-2-5 will be the key to wrecking havoc in the backfield and improving on the 119th defense according to SP+.
Senior defensive ends Darrien Grant and Athlon All-Conference Fourth Teamer Rashawn Yates will return 19 total tackles and a ton of experience at the ends while junior Jason Vaughn (19 total tackles) and sophomore Tramel Logan (15 total tackles, one sack) will look to expand on solid 2021 seasons on the outside.
Where the excitement is are in the new faces coming to Fowler Avenue. North Carolina transfer and Armwood grad Clyde Pinder Jr. brings 14 games of experience and was ranked a four-star prospect out of high school. Missouri transfer Jatorian Hansford brings four years of experience on the edge and played just under 200 snaps last season. Minnesota transfer Rashad Cheney and Temple transfer Nick Bags saw action in two seasons for their respective programs - and they all have had time in a collegiate weight room.
Redshirt freshmen Le’vontae Camiel, Keeon Terrell, and Colby Smith as well as Jhalin Hobbs will also look to crack the 2-deep under the new defensive front.
It’s all about creating more havoc and negative plays for the defensive line, which in turn will free up Antonio Grier, and Dwayne Boyles to make more plays from the linebacker position.
Can the Bulls turn it around?