2015 Johns Hopkins Football Preview - Defensive Backs
BALTIMORE, MD -- In the fourth of a seven-part series breaking down the 2015 Johns Hopkins football team, HopkinsSports.com takes a look at the Blue Jay defensive backs. While newcomers to the program may make an impact this season, the breakdown includes only returning players.
We've Got Them Cornered - Johns Hopkins has the luxury of returning both of its starting cornerbacks from last season in seniors Curtis Antrum and Charlie Kassis. Antrum got the nod in all 12 games last season, while Kassis started nine games while playing in all 12.
Antrum posted 38 tackles and five pass breakups a year ago. He has the speed to run with any of the top receivers in the Centennial Conference and is equally adept again the run. Kassis added 27 tackles and four pass breakups last season and teams with Antrum to give Johns Hopkins an experienced and talented pair of starting corners.
Sudden Impact - Was there a better sophomore defensive player in the Centennial Conference last season than Johns Hopkins safety Jack Toner? An argument can always be made, but defensive coordinator Mickey Rehring and defensive backs coach Mike Toerper are sure glad that Toner lines up in the Hokins Blue and Black.
Toner eased his way into the starting lineup early in the 2014 season and ended the year with 69 tackles, a team-high eight pass breakups, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He was one of just two sophomores to earn First Team All-Centennial honors on defense and his 69 total tackles were the most among all sophs in the league.
A Big Loss - There's no denying the fact that the loss of three-time All-Centennial safety Ryan Rice is going to hurt. There's no way to make up for 43 games of experience .. not to mention 119 career tackles and 16 career PBUs. Also gone is Jimmy Holder, a regular in the secondary who missed half of 2014, but played in 31 career games and was a steady performer on the corner. Despite a number of returnees, the loss of Rice and Holder will take time to overcome.
We Can go Deep - Beyond the three returning starters noted above, there is no shortage of talented players on hand. Three key returning players who looked strong through the spring and preseason camp are juniors Dan Johnson, Jesse Poore and Marcus Spearman and sophomore Michael Munday.
Johnson ihas played in 20 games in the last two years, primarily as the team's top special teams performer. He is a physical player who appears poised for a breakout season in a more permanent role.
Poore has played in 19 career games and counts 38 tackles and three fumble recoveries to his credit. Also a standout member of the Johns Hopkins track team, he has the speed to stay with receivers on the outside and is a good open-field tackler.
Spearman and Munday have both been hampered by injuries, but with health they give the Blue Jays four starting-caliber corners.
Keep an eye on senior Josh Bernard, who is making the move from offense to defense this season. The transition has been smooth and he could work his way into the rotation after a strong offseason.
In addition to the above, there are a number of newcomers to the secondary who could see playing time on defense and are likely to fuel the Blue Jays' special teams as well.
Numbers to Know
9 - Johns Hopkins surrendered just nine touchdown passes on 407 pass attempts last season.
13 - Players who combined for 13 of Johns Hopkins' 15 interceptions a year ago are back this season.
53.6 - The opposition completed just 53.6% of its pass attempts against Johns Hopkins last season.
- Pride and Poise -