Last season, we saw the emergence of a star and playmaker in Jaire Alexander. Alexander had 5 interceptions, 9 passes defended, and finished 11th on the team in total tackles with 39 (31 solo). Because of his breakout season, Alexander has received numerous preseason accolades and has been named to multiple award watch lists. While Alexander headlines the group that has appropriately named themselves the “Tax Boys”, his surrounding cast is full of elite players also.
The lone loss from the secondary was Josh Harvey-Clemons, who played both linebacker and safety last season. JHC was bitten by the injury bug at times last season, which called for, then Sophomore, Dee Smith to step in and play meaningful snaps, while earning crucial experience for this upcoming season. While he wasn’t lost from the team, there was another loss from the secondary that was announced recently, Cornelius Sturghill was removed as Cornerback and re-positioned at receiver.
All that being said, the Tax Boys are more than ready to collect. As mentioned, Jaire Alexander led the team with an impressive 5 interceptions. Senior Safety Chucky Williams also has a nose for the ball, he was second on the team in interceptions with 3, and first on the team in fumbles recovered with 4 and he led the team in total tackles with 107, 61 of those were solo and 46 were assisted, both also, team leaders. Zykiesis Cannon joins Williams as the other safety, he was fourth on the team in total tackles with 67. And the man who will be the opposite corner of Alexander is arguably the most under-appreciated Cardinal on the team, Trumaine Washington. Washington is a senior this season, and part of the criticism he receives is due to the impressive sophomore season we saw from him. He may have taken a step back last season, but his leadership and experience will certainly be crucial for this group’s success this season.
We will also see a lot of Dee Smith this season, probably in the heavier DB packages and rotations. Smith is a hard-hitting Safety, with a good nose for the ball and will definitely earn a solid amount of playing time. Another name to look out for is true freshman Russ Yeast. Alexander wowed us in limited capacity in his freshman season, and Yeast is definitely capable of the same type of season.
It’s hard to imagine any QB feeling good about airing it out against this group. If anyone dares to be so bold, best believe the Tax Boys will be collecting this season.