To: New Texas State defensive coordinator John Thompson
Coach Thompson I know you have a lot of experience at high level programs so you don’t need any help with how to run a defense, but with spring practices so close to starting I thought I’d give you a hand getting to know your new surroundings.
One of the first players I’m sure you’ll meet will be senior linebacker Mike Orakpo. You’ll be walking into a good situation with a group of strong senior leaders that know this is their last chance to make a bowl at Texas State before their careers are over.
I don’t know if Orakpo is the best leader, but he’s the loudest. He’s the face of the defense to the fans and the heart of the group.
You run an attacking defense and Orakpo is probably the sharpest arrow in your quiver. He’s at his best pressing the line of scrimmage and playing downhill. If he’s able to do that then he should have an all-conference year.
You’ve said great linebackers are important to the defense and that’s an area where you won’t need to worry. If David Mayo can just play a full season at Texas State without falling prey to the injury bug then he should lead the defense in almost every category from tackles to interceptions.
Mayo can rush the passer and will make a lot of tackles in the backfield, but unlike Orakpo he’s best working in space. You won’t find a more instinctual linebacker in the Sun Belt today than Mayo, who always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
He needs to get better at taking on blockers but he’s usually able to use his quickness to get by slower linemen to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
The other senior leader with a lot to prove is cornerback Craig Mager. This will be his fourth year as a starter, and at his best he’s inconsistent with flashes of greatness and at his worst he’s overmatched and a step late.
Mager likes to take risks and will gamble a few times which have paid off (see the first touchdown against Southern Miss) but sometimes he comes up empty and it results in a touchdown the other way.
The Bobcats got lucky last year that Xavier Daniels was able to make the transition to corner as smoothly as he did. With the potential for a completely new starting secondary around him, Mager needs to take his play to the next level or the defense will continue their pace as one of the worst against the pass in the conference.
The most exciting thing about the defense is the mix of veteran leadership and really talented young players. The current staff has recruited well the last few years and many of the talented players from the 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes are finally to the point where they’re able to contribute significant minutes.
I expect freshman and sophomores like Germod “Gizmo” Williams, Dila Rosemond, Stephen Smith, Dallas McClarty, Will Trevillion and Damani Alexcee to provide depth and much needed speed and athleticism to an already experienced and strong defense. These are the players I’m most interested in watching this spring.
Hope you enjoy your time in San Marcos,