Things are falling into place for freshman defensive back Tra'Mayne Bondurant. The 5-foot-10, 185 pound defensive back got a lift when the Arizona Wildcats fired Mike Stoops and interim head coach Tim Kish inserted Bondurant into the defensive mix against the UCLA Bruins.
In his debut, he posted eight tackles.
Then, when a brawl sidelined a number of Arizona's secondary thanks to suspension, Bondurant shined again, this time in a loss against Washington last week. So far, he recorded eight tackles in both games and has two tackles for loss and a sack.
The guy isn't coming off the field for the rest of the season, Kish says.
Using a double-eagle flex defense, Kish needed the freshman to play a rover position, allowing him to freely move about near the line of scrimmage as the line and linebackers contained the outside of the Bruins' pistol defense. But depending on the opposition and depending on the defensive schemes, Bondurant has been all over the place, playing everything from a mini-linebacker to a rover, to nickelback, to safety, to his listed cornerback position, writes Ryan Finley of the Daily Star.
And he's been making plays, too.
Finley says Bondurant will move on to yet another position at the Sam/nickel spot against the Utah Utes tomorrow. That will allow him to stay on the field depending on the scheme, a good thing for the Wildcats considering the sudden lack of depth in the secondary.
The usual nickelback, Jourdon Grandon, will shift to cornerback with an injury to Shaquille Richardson, who was injured in practice.
From all we've seen of Bondurant so far, keeping him on the field will be a good thing. The Utes offense has struggled this season, coming in at 100th in the country in passing yards and 80th in rushing yards per game. With shaky quarterback play from Jon Hays, who's filling in for starter Jordan Wynn, Utah will likely keep it on the ground with running back John White IV.
White has 915 yards on the year with a 5.1 average, and keeping him contained will be much of Bondurant's job. Unlike bruiser Chris Polk of Washington, he tired the Arizona defense last week, White comes in at 5-foot-8 and 186 pounds, so Bondurant's speed and wherewithal close to the line of scrimmage will be key.
Essentially, Bondurant's opportunity is an excellent chance to show what he's got as far as versatility goes. Does he amount to a cornerback or a safety, or something only for a specialized defense such as the one Kish has installed?
Ideally, Bondurant can convert to cornerback -- how weird is it that he's essentially a linebacker? -- and perhaps make a mark on the film that whomever the next coach will watch.
That'll be hard, though. McKnight will return next season and the next, as will Richardson. The returning safeties are young as well, and Grandon is also a freshman. This year aside, the secondary looks quite promising.