Admittedly, this list of most important players has been heavily skewed to offensive player thus far. Until now, only one defender has been written about and it was Mark Perry, who may or may not start at safety as a true freshman. We’re not ignoring the defenders, they’re just higher up on the list because they’re more important. We generally know what the offense will look like, health permitting, but there are so many question marks on defense in the first year of Mel Tucker’s tenure.
One of those questions is in the secondary. The position group has seen a lot of turmoil as Nick Fisher and Evan Worthington graduated and Dante Wigley, Ronnie Blackmon and Hasaan Hypolite have left the program. Delrick Abrams will be dependable, but otherwise, we don’t know who will start, who will see the most playing time and who will even be good. For a defense that’s expected to play with 5 DBs almost all the time, every defensive back is important.
Chris Miller-Slaughter is assumed to be the starter at cornerback opposite Abrams. He might be the most talented defensive back on the roster, which says quite a bit. He’s also an unknown as he only started two games last year and they were against USC and Washington, two teams that feature freaks at receiver. Although Miller-Slaughter was hit-or-miss in those games, those freak receivers are exactly who he will be counted on to defend because of his athleticism.
Abrams is the classic Mike MacIntyre cornerback — tall, lengthy and excels in physical press coverage. Miller-Slaughter more closely fits the Mel Tucker mold — quick-twitch athlete who is coached up to play zone coverage. Tucker isn’t the DBs coach, but like MacIntyre, that’s where he cut his teeth as a coach and will be heavily involved with that position groups. Miller-Slaughter might be the test dummy to see how quickly a young and athletic DB can progress in one offseason under Tucker’s tutelage. If the defense is going to be stable with a dependable secondary, Miller-Slaughter’s rapid improvement may prove critical