4. College Football News Preview 2020: Charlotte 49ers Defense 3 Things To Know
– The defense had enough good moments to get by. It wasn’t always a rock, but it allowed 22 points or fewer five times, and won all five games. The pass rush was good, but Alex Highsmith is gone at one end, and the team was 33rd in the nation in tackles for loss.
It helps in a big way to get back Tyriq Harris, one of the team’s top defensive ends who missed last year hurt. The interior has a good 311-pound tackle in Timmy Horne, and there’s help from the transfer portal starting with Josiah Sa’o from Vanderbilt.
– Along with getting back Harris, the return of star S Ben DeLuca from a shoulder injury is massive. He’s the all-around tone-setter for the secondary, helping to ease the loss of leading tackler Marquavis Gibbs. Ja’Cione Fugate is back at the other safety job after coming up with 70 tackles, and Duke transfer Antone Williams should play an instant role.
The corner jobs are up for grabs with a mix of parts, JUCO transfers, and young players battling for spots – sophomore nickel defender Jonnie Pittman made 30 tackles – but there’s only one returning interception from last year’s defensive backs.
– Second-leading tackler Jeff Gemmell is done at linebacker, but junior Henry Segura returns after making 66 stops. He’s a safety-sized 208 pounds, but South Carolina transfer Derek Boykins – if ready to go – brings a bit more thump, and 225-pound senior Luke Martin is coming off a 29-tackle season.