Many of our Defensive players had great games. At times Raji, Toal, Pruitt, Silva and Glasper, all had great moments, but either injury or effort kept them off my list. I feel the guys below had the best season and fortunately they are all coming back next year.
1. Dejuan Tribble. This wasn’t even close. Tribble by far had the best season on the defensive side of the ball. He is our best corner in coverage. He is a game changer with his INT returns. And what is often overlooked, is that he has become a very good tackler. In his area, he will shed a blocker and make a tough tackle. Like any corner he was beat occasionally, but I think he is our best CB since Michael Reed. Tribble is a game changer and I hope he continues his improvement next season.
2. Jolonn Dunbar. As I’ve said before, Dunbar played well the first half of the season, but took it to another level in the second half. His games against Maryland and Navy were outstanding. Unfortunately he missed the Miami game…I think he would have made a difference. Always strong against the run, Dunbar has improved his coverage skills. Toal is the bigger name, but Dunbar is clearly our best linebacker.
3. Kevin Akins. For a limited role player, I questioned whether I should put Akins in my Top 3. He got runover against Navy. He is only on the field for 30% of the plays, yet his impact was so important that he deserves it. Our front four had issues getting to the QB. We needed to do something. Akins was the answer. His nose for the QB, speed and toughness created all sorts of issues for opposing offenses. As the season progressed, teams adapted and Akins’s highlights diminished, but looking at the season on whole, Akins was one of our most important players.