Football camp update: secondary shaping up; Sanders fights for a spot in backfield, on special teams
Stanford football head coach David Shaw said Tuesday that he was pleased with the progress made by his secondary, which lost starters Michael Thomas, Delano Howell and Johnson Bademosi to graduation last year.
Junior cornerback Terrence Brown — who made nine starts in 2011 after an injury to highly-touted freshman Wayne Lyons — is approaching a leadership role because of his “field credibility,” Shaw noted. Fellow corner Barry Browning, who has started three games over each of his first two Stanford seasons, has also stood out for his maturity, but the Cardinal’s defensive backfield is still shaping up midway through training camp.
“The fact that we have good competition there is exciting,” Shaw said. “We have two guys who have played a lot there in Barry and Terrence, but also Wayne, who’s been chomping at the bit now to play, to get back on the field.”
The coaching staff is leaning Ed Reynolds’ way at free safety, but the strong safety competition is just shaping up, with sophomore Jordan Richards and junior Devon Carrington considered the frontrunners by their coach.
With USC’s Robert Woods and Marqise Lee coming to Stanford Stadium just a month from Wednesday, it still remains to be seen whether Stanford’s secondary can control the Pac-12’s elite receivers. Asked whether his guys match up, Shaw replied, “Not going to have to wait too long to find out, will we?”
The coaching staff has still yet to determine how — or if — it should use freshman running back Barry J. Sanders, son of NFL Hall of Famer Barry Sanders. A returning duo of tested backs, senior Stepfan Taylor and junior Anthony Wilkerson, is joined by journeymen Remound Wright and Ricky Seale, who have both impressed in fall camp.
Still, Sanders has been making defenders miss in practice, all the while making the decision that much harder for his coaches. The Cardinal did use five running backs (Taylor, Wilkerson, Jeremy Stewart, Tyler Gaffney and junior Usua Amanam, who is now a corner) consistently in 2010.
Sanders is also competing for time as a kick returner, but Shaw said that “if it’s just returning kicks and not anyplace else, that may not be enough to burn a redshirt.”
An update on lingering injuries: freshmen linebacker Noor Davis and offensive tackle Andrus Peat should be back within the next week, while sophomore offensive lineman Cole Underwood will likely miss the season with a knee injury Shaw described as “not as good as we had hoped.” Meanwhile, sophomore defensive tackle David Parry has earned the scholarship left vacant by Gaffney, who decided to leave the Farm to pursue a professional baseball career.
Sunday marks the Cardinal’s second open practice in nine days, as Stanford hosts its annual Open House event in Stanford Stadium from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Besides watching a scrimmage, fans will be treated to a behind-the-scenes tour and an autograph session.