FAU Football Spring Preview: Defensive Backs
Keith Reaser (45 tackles, 2 INT)
Cre’von LeBlanc (42 tackles, 4 PBU)
D’Joun Smith (25 tackles, 1 INT, 8 PBU)
Jeremy McKnight (28 tackles 1 INT)
Winfred Strickland (24 tackles 1 INT)
Christian Milstead (24 tackles)
Damian Parms Jr. (20 tackles)
Sharrod Neasman (11 tackles)
On the Way:
-Stats are from last season.
Overview: Florida Atlantic losses just one starter at defensive back from last season and welcomes back almost the entire secondary. Senior cornerback Keith Reaser (pictured above) has started 27 games and has recorded five career interceptions. On the other side of Reaser is junior D’Joun Smith, who has seen extended action over the past two seasons. Senior Jeremy McKnight returns at free safety while senior Winfred Strickland will try to secure the strong safety position after the graduation of Brent Harstad. McKnight started five games last season before missing time with an injury, while Strickland recorded six tackles and an interception against Troy. The nickelback position is held by Cre’von LeBlanc and Christian Milstead, who both were integral members of the defense last year. LeBlanc started nine games as a true freshman and finished seventh on the team in tackles. Milstead, a former Navy transfer, started four games over the course of the season and spelled LeBlanc when neccessary. Damian Parms Jr. and David Lozandier are candidates to see playing time and compete at safety while Sharrod Neasman and Adrian Burton could work into the rotation at corner. Marc Mauro will join the team this summer out of junior college and is expected to be in the mix for the starting free safety position.
Player on the Spot: - Cre’von LeBlanc - LeBlanc didn’t play in the first two games last season because of academic issues, but once he was cleared he started as a true freshman at Georgia. LeBlanc is a physical defensive back that can contribute to the run defense. With FAU looking to approve against the rush, the nickelback will be asked to play closer to the line of scrimmage.
Remember the Name: - Adrian Burton - Burton redshirted last year after an injury resulted in shoulder surgery before the start of the season. The cornerback was impressive in last year’s fall camp and should pick up where he left off this spring. It wouldn’t be surprising if his name was in the rotation at corner.
Key Stat: - 8 - The Owls managed just eight interceptions last season, which was their lowest total in three seasons. Winning the turnover battle is key in football, and the secondary is essential in that department.
Forecast: Statistically speaking FAU had one of the top pass defenses in the Sun Belt Conference last season. The squad returns almost all of that production and will have a few new individuals that can make a difference. Look for Reaser and Smith to continue to be the regulars at corner with LeBlanc at nickelback and McKnight at strong safety. Expect Strickland and Parms to compete for the other safety position and Mauro once he arrives on campus. The secondaries focus this spring should be getting everyone repetitions in practice.
Up Next: Special Teams
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