NASHVILLE --- The last line of defense for Tennessee State football will be manned by one of the younger groups on the team. The safety unit boasts three juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen. Despite being young, four members of the group have played in 11 or more games throughout their careers.
Laquarius Cook finished second on the team with 66 tackles and led the Big Blue by forcing three fumbles. The redshirt-junior broke up six passes, deflected six and had two tackles for loss in just nine games. Cook looks to get classmate Trevion Duncan back after a season ending injury stopped the junior in the fourth game of the season.
In his short amount of time on the field, Duncan made 23 tackles, forced a fumble and had one interception. The redshirt-sophomore looks to bounce back and provide support to Cook in the defensive backfield.
Lakhalon Holland stepped up after Duncan’s injury and will look to bring experience to the backfield. Holland finished the season with 31 tackles, a breakup, a pass deflection and a forced fumble.
Shakur Jackson returns with experience, playing in all 11 games a season ago. Jackson totaled five tackles, three solo, a breakup, a deflection and a quarterback hurry.
Florida State transfer Xavier Hurge, along with redshirt-freshman Desmond Johnson and true freshman Vincent Sellers will fight for time with the four returners. Redshirt-freshman Tyler Bond adds depth to the unit and will fight to see time on special teams.
The Tigers picked up Nick Harper, Jr. who transferred in from Missouri State after finishing his prep career at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, Tenn. Harper will sit the 2017 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
|SAFETIES||HT||WT||YR||Gms Played||Tackles||Pass BrUp||INT|
|Xavier Hurge||6-1||206||R-Jr.||Florida State||--||--||--|
|Nick Harper, Jr.||5-11||175||R-Fr.||Missouri State|
Redshirt Freshman Safety Tyler Bond
- On how camp has been going for the safeties
“The safeties have been playing very well, especially with the upperclassmen being a great example for us. I’m a walk-on, and us younger people have been stepping up. So it’s been going great.”
- On adjusting to new Defensive Coordinator Garry Fisher
“Everyone’s adjusting pretty well to Coach Fisher. He’s getting us ready for great things this season. He wants to win a championship, so he’s going to get that done very soon. He puts a lot of time and work into everything he does, and I think he’s going to get the job done. The upperclassmen are really going to step up this season.”
Redshirt Junior Safety Xavier Hurge
- On Camp
“Camp’s been great. I’m just trying to learn the plays. It’s hard coming from a different organization to a new one, but I know once I get adjusted, it’s going to be good.”
- On the play of the safeties
“We’re coming down the middle, hitting hard, getting depth and everything’s right. The other guys have really helped me out.”
Redshirt Sophomore Safety Shakur Jackson
- On the progression of the safeties
“I think it’s been going well. I think defensively, we’ve been progressively getting better every day. Being is more consistent is what we’re trying to accomplish, and I think by the first game we’ll be pretty ready to go.”
- On the biggest improvement during camp
“I think the biggest improvement has been knowing when to call things, making the correct checks and getting aligned properly as the offense makes motion adjustments.”
Freshman Safety Vincent Sellers
- On how the safeties have been playing in camp
“We’ve been doing pretty well. We kind of make the main calls on the defensive side, so we have a big role in the defense. Coach Fisher focuses on every single detail, so I feel like we’re getting better.”
- On the improvement of the safeties
“I feel like we’re reading things a lot quicker than we were at the beginning of camp. I feel like we’re processing plays a lot better.”