With the loss of cornerbacks Cameron Truss, (Pittsburgh) and Aaron Foster (Dallas) as well as safety BooBoo Gates, (Tennessee) the Bowling Green secondary will look for some new faces to step up as playmakers this upcoming season.
The Falcons finished their 2013 campaign with the sixth best passing defense in the country. Truss, Foster, and Gates all played significant roles in this success, which makes finding their replacements even more of a priority.
There are two new recruits that stick out to me that could not just get playing time as freshman, but also could ultimately be the future of the Falcons secondary. The first being former Louisville commit Nilijah Ballew.
Ballew, a four-star recruit out of Walnut Hills High School, landed at BG after de-committing from Louisville and being over-looked by Indiana. His highlight tape shows his ability to be a very successful run-stopper as well as a potentially dangerous kick returner. This tape also shows his ability to time up hits on receivers as the ball arrives. Ballew is listed at 6'2, 196, and his build and his ball skills seemingly remind me of the 5'11 200lb BooBoo Gates.
The second defensive back signee that really intrigued me was a two-star commit out of Timken Senior High school in Canton, Ohio: Nick Johnson.
While a two-star commit may not be very intriguing, this kid's athleticism and potential could turn him into something special. Johnson "early enrolled" at Bowling Green for this past spring semester, as he is still 17 years old. Coaches at BG are very excited about Johnson's athleticism and the potential he has to grow. Johnson is measured in at 6'2, 186, as he has already put on about 20 lbs since his senior year in high school when he was listed at 165. Johnson made his mark in BGSU's spring game, he totalling seven solo tackles in his first appearance as a Falcon.
In the spring game I noticed a few things about Johnson's play. First, this kid is unreal athletic. His 40-time is listed at 4.54 seconds, which is extremely quick especially for a player who is listed as a two star recruit. To put it in perspective, the fastest recorded 40 time by a receiver at the Nike Sparq Recruiting Combine was 4.46 and that was done by a five star recruit. Johnsons' athleticism will stack up very well against MAC receivers, and could lead him to be a shut down defensive back in years to come. The other thing that really stuck out at me was his discipline and his ability shed blockers to make tackles. I really like his lateral quickness and his ability, but his overall size could be his downfall.
Johnson looks to challenge some of the returning defensive backs at BG for a starting job this season. When asked about enrolling early at BG Johnson spoke on the topic of having the opportunity to start as a freshman and challenge other returning defensive backs for playing time.
Overall, if Johnson can put on a few more pounds and keep his athleticism I think he could be a great asset to BG's secondary in years to come. Keep an eye on both of these guys as they could develop into an elite defensive back tandem in the MAC.