I continue the breakdowns today with safety.
Nickoe Whitley (SR)
The senior head hunter has played his whole career at FS and that’s where I expect he’ll start. After standout years as a freshman and sophomore, last year was a bit of a down year production wise. It’s understandable considering he was coming off a ruptured Achilles. In the spring, Whitley looked better conditioned and was moving well. He looked like the old Nickoe. That’s good news for MSU fans who covet that enforcer at safety.
Jay Hughes (JR)
Even though this is Hughes first year as the full time starter, he probably should have started last year. It would have been hard not to start Corey Broomfield last year, even though he was out of position. The 5’11 190 Hughes plays like a coach on the field. He always seems to be in the right place to either make a play on the ball or the receiver. He had a really good spring and I’d expect the same in fall camp. Big upgrade at the position, personnel wise, as opposed to last year.
Deonte Evans (soph)
The 5’10 195 product of Mccomb really came into his own since the end of last year. He’s really established himself a the FS of the future and probably earned game reps on defense and special teams. He’s a really good athlete who does everything pretty well. He also packs a punch when he gets to the ball or receiver.
Dee Arrington (JR)
By far the most physically imposing safety on MSU’s roster at 6’1 210. He had a neck and neck battle with Hughes and Hughes barely edged him out in my eyes. Physically and athletically I think Arrington is superior. He constantly wows you in practice with his athleticism and size but probably needs to work on the mental side to overtake Hughes. I expect Arrington to get his fair share of game reps and really shine on coverage units.
Kendrick Market (soph)
The South Panola product shows the same thing in practice he showed his whole high school career: a nose for the ball. He’s not gonna wow you with size (5’10 185) but he will with heart. With the MSU secondary being so packed, it will be interesting to see where he fits in as far as reps but he deserves to crack the game log.
Quadry Antoine (RS freshman)
The Belle Chasse, LA native came in with the nickname of “hitman” and he has not disappointed. At 5’9 205, he’s in the similar mold of Nickoe Whitkey physically and stylistically. There is definitely a future for Antoine in the defensive backfield. He just needs to work on coverage and the mental aspect of being a safety.
Brandon Wells (true freshman)
The 2013 signee from Bogue Chitto immediately bring something to safety that MSU lacks: size. At 6’2 175 he has a really long frame that can flourish in his time with Coach Balis. He’s classified as an athlete but I really think safety is his home. At camps last summer, he ran 4.4 range so speed is not an issue. Very bright future for Wells even though he will probably redshirt.
When you think about safety last year, you really need some perspective. MSU had a FS (Whitley) that was clearly not 100% and a SS (Broomfield) who played CB his whole career and was out of position. A healthily Whitley and Jay Hughes is a big upgrade from last year. Both guys I have at #2’s are legit SEC starters so you have to feel good about quality depth. The only minor gripe i could have is lack of size. You would love to see all the guys the size of Arrington and Wells. Fortunately, being big isn’t a requirement to be a good safety. All in all, there is a lot of athleticism and safety is not a position group MSU fans should worry about.