Projected starters; Ht.; Wt.; Yr.; Hometown
1 | Faion Hicks (above); 5-10; 185; Jr.; Miami
21 | Caesar Williams; 6-0; 188; Sr.; Grand Prairie, Texas
5 | Rachad Wildgoose; 5-11; 197; Jr.; Miramar, Fla.
4 | Donte Burton; 5-10; 180; So.; Loganville, Ga.
8 | Deron Harrell; 6-2; 182; Jr.; Denver, Colo.
20 | Semar Melvin; 5-11; 166; Fr.; Pembroke Pines, Fla.
6 | Dean Engram; 5-9; 164; Fr.; Columbia, Md.
11 | Alexander Smith; 5-11; 182; So.; Culver City, Calif.
36 | Kobe Knaak; 5-9; 191; Sr.; Franklin
17 | Max Lofy; 5-10; 184; Fr.; Colorado Springs, Colo.
16 | Amaun Williams; 5-10; 185; Fr.; Milwaukee
25 | Eric Burrell; 6-0; 195; Sr.; Severn, Md.
18 | Collin Wilder; 5-10; 194; Sr.; Katy, Texas
9 | Scott Nelson; 6-2; 204; Jr.; Detroit, Mich.
31 | Madison Cone; 5-9; 182; Sr.; Kernersville, N.C.
15 | John Torchio; 6-1; 205; So.; Lafayette, Calif.
30 | Tyler Mais; 6-1; 196; Jr.; Waunakee
38 | Dante Caputo; 5-11; 181; Fr.; Pittsburgh, Penn.
29 | Brady Schipper; 5-11; 206; So.; Stoughton
26 | Travian Blaylock; 5-11; 200; So.; Humble, Texas
12 | Titus Toler; 5-11; 192; Fr.; Long Beach, Calif.
No position group returns as many snaps from last season as the secondary. Up-and-down play early in the year gave way to more consistency as the unit got more reps together. Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard employed a hot-hand mentality to the group, especially at corner, rewarding those players performing best at practice with game reps. Faion Hicks, Caesar Williams, Rachad Wildgoose, Donte Burton, Deron Harrell and Semar Melvin all started games at corner a year ago. Having as many players as he does at his disposal allows Leonhard to rotate and keep competition high at practice. Safety also is loaded with returning talent, with starter Eric Burrell returning. Reggie Pearson, who started 12 games in 2019, was not medically cleared to play this season. The safety group is deep with experience, as well, with Scott Nelson returning from injury and seniors Collin Wilder and Madison Cone available.
The depth and experience of the secondary makes up for the lack of explosive pass-rush, and the group tallies at least an interception per game. Hicks, Williams and Wildgoose continue their ascent and form one of the best DB trios in the conference, and their ability to plaster onto receivers lets Leonhard be creative with blitzes.
The rotation at corner and possibly safety leads to communication errors and a lack of continuity. The tackling woes that crept up last season return and the secondary doesn’t find a way to handle the spread attacks featured by six of UW’s opponents this year.
12 | Interceptions last season, tied for the program’s fewest since 2015.