The biggest surprise, frankly, has been 3-star JC recruit Stanley Franks, who originally signed with Idaho as a wide receiver but was moved to corner shortly after arriving on campus this winter. He had earned All-Conference honors as a junior college wide receiver last year, and although he is fleet afoot it was uncertain how well he'd do at corner (after all, he hadn't played the position much since high school, where he was successful as both a CB and WR). Well, he's done exceptionally well this spring and is poised to make this possibly the deepest, most talented corner rotation at Idaho in years. In last Saturday's scrimmage Franks spent significant time working with the #1 defense and picked a Steve Wichman pass that he returned for a TD.
So which of the three playing the best? It's tough to say, but as one of our scouts said of last Saturday's scrimmage, "Jones just simply stands out…he forced fumbles, stripped the ball, and knocked balls down." But in general, the overall play of the corners has just been impressive.
Even redshirt freshman walkon Zachery-James Santos (out of Hawaii) has looked good this spring, and may be a nice surprise next fall. Speedster Keith Charles, a redshirt freshman recruit out of southern California who has worked with the Idaho track team this winter and spring, will be a factor this fall. Additionally, incoming recruit General Parnell will reportedly get a long look by the staff when he joins the team this fall, with a very strong possibility of playing as a true freshman.
It's still too early to make any prediction about how the corners will play next fall, but the group overall is having a productive spring camp. And for the first time in years, Idaho may be going into a season without major questions at corner… a testament to the job cornerbacks coach Alundis Brice has done developing this unit each of the last two years at Idaho.
GETTING A PUSH UP FRONT … The defensive backfield for Idaho is playing well, but a lot of that improved play can be attributed to the disruption that the defensive line is causing. Although the team is without junior noseguard Siua Musika (a starter at noseguard since his true freshman season in 2004, Musika is reportedly rehabbing a knee injury suffered late last season), the defensive line is full strength. This group has been the focus of much of Idaho's recruiting in each of the last 3 recruiting classes, and that focus is starting to pay off now.
The defensive staff has been experimenting with personnel up front, and in last Saturday's scrimmage started Charles Campbell (6-3, 230) at strongside defensive end and Ben Alexander (6-1, 238) at rush end (weakside DE), while sophomore defensive end Josh Shaw (6-2, 255) moved inside to defensive tackle, lining up next to Ryan Davis (6-0, 270) who started at noseguard. With Shaw having done a remarkable job bulking up last season and during winter conditioning, this group puts a little more speed on the defensive front.
Marvin Jones, 6-2, 301
On the ends, Alexander, Campbell and Shaw top the charts. Depending on the formation and the tactic, JC transfer George Fa'avae (6-2, 255) and Taylor Rust (6-2, 238) have seen reps with the top defense and give Idaho some added size off the edge.
The bottom line is that two years of playing an army of true freshmen and redshirt freshmen is starting to pay off for the Vandals. For the first time in years the team goes a legit 2-deep across the entire defensive line, and that is undoubtedly having an impact on how well the corners are playing.