Arizona will be without some key leaders in the secondary this season, but here comes an influx of key contributors primed to step up into a bigger role. As of right now, the secondary might be the weakest part of Arizona's defense, simply because of the pass happy Pac-12 attack.
The secondary will likely have Cam Denson and Jarvis McCall outside at corners, with William Parks floating around as the spur, Tellas Jones and Paul Magloire splitting time at the bandit spot, and Jamar Allah up top at free safety, with the help of freshman Devon Brewer.
Key Losses: Jared Tevis, Tra'Mayne Bondurant, Jonathan McKnight, Jourdon Grandon
Key Returners: Will Parks, Cam Denson, Jarvis McCall Jr., Anthony Lopez, Tellas Jones, Jamar Allah
Key Newcomers: DaVonte' Neal, Paul Magloire Jr., Devon Brewer, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Sammy Morrison
Will Parks is going to be the commander of the secondary. He's a guy, much like Scooby, who should presumably never come off the field. He's a playmaker and being at the spur full time will put him in great position. Parks could also see some time at free safety, depending on what the defense is trying to accomplish. Anthony Lopez will need to come in and support the secondary at some point, and he'll likely be in the spur position as well, seeing extended reps if Parks slides up to free safety for a bit.
Cam Denson got beat quite a few times early in games last season. California, Colorado, UCLA, Boise State...all teams that attacked Denson early in the game for a quick score. When I talked to him at spring practices, he said that he now has a better understanding of the playbook and knows what to expect now. He also cited a desire to add more to his frame, now at 5-11 168lbs. He might be prone to giving up more big plays, but he might also be the better playmaker in terms of corners for Arizona.
Jarvis played the majority of last season with a shoulder injury, and was nursing a hamstring injury through spring practice. And now, the first day of fall practice he went down with a groin injury. He's going to need to come up healthy this season, as Arizona's most experienced corner. I think he's fairly overlooked on defense when it comes to performers, as he was able to hold his own against the number one receivers at times.
It'll be up to DaVonte' Neal and Devin Holiday to help support Denson and McCall, with Neal likely to get more reps. Neal's athleticism will take him a long way, but we'll see how he works in the slot, knowing the tricks of the trade as a receiver. Another guy who impressed me throughout the spring was Kwesi Mashack. He's a small, relentless dude at 5-9 but a jacked 203lbs, who knows how to use his body and make reads on routes that allowed him to compete with the size of Cayleb Jones and David Richards
Tellas Jones was named as the hardest hitter in the secondary when I asked some of the receivers throughout the spring. If it's not Scooby Wright laying down the hit, it'll be Tellas Jones cleaning it up and sending a message. He's going to bring the hard edge to the defense.
Paul Magloire will be there to support Jones at the bandit spot. Magloire seems to be a magnet to the ball, similar to that of Tra'Mayne Bondurant. He's already making a name for himself in the weight room, breaking the defensive back bench press record, and then breaking his own record just days later. He's built like a linebacker and it won't take long for Arizona fans to notice him on the field.
A guy Rich Rodriguez has spoken highly of this offseason is Jamar Allah. He filled in quite a bit for Jourdon Grandon when he was ejected at UCLA and injured at some points throughout the season. He's going to have big responsibilities up top at free safety, having to scan the field and patrol the middle.
Devon Brewer impressed coaches this spring, and he could be a true freshman that sees the field, especially considering how porous the secondary could be. They'll need bodies out there, and Brewer proved that he can step up and make plays.
An incoming freshman turning heads is Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles. He was originally supposed to be a greyshirt, but with the way scholarships lined up, he made it down this fall and had a great couple of days at camp. At 6-2 182lbs, he also has a great frame with room to grow. Another freshman to know is Sammy Morrison. He's recently been taking reps with the ones at corner, and could be a guy who fills in nicely if injuries continue to be a problem at that position.
The secondary will definitely be a work in progress all season long. But with younger/newer guys like Neal, Magloire, Denson, McCall, Brewer and Flannigan-Fowles, the secondary should get better as the season goes on.