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With 8 days until Virginia Tech faces Alabama in the Georgia Dome, we turn our attention to no. 8 on roster Mr. Detrick Bonner. Last season, the two safety spots were two of the biggest question marks on defense. Surprisingly, by the end of the season they were two of our biggest strengths. Entering this fall, I don’t think anybody is expecting the level of play to change with both players. Bonner slid over from cornerback and did a good job operating from the free safety position. Now in his 4th year on campus, it’s time for him to go from solid starter to playmaker.
Weight: 189 lbs
Position: Free Safety
High School: Luelia High School
Location: McDonough, GA
High School Career
A handpicked prospect out of Georgia, Coach Gray offered Bonner after viewing his film and sizing him up on a stop during one of the evaluation periods. That offer was one of several for Bonner. The Georgia native held scholarships from Virginia Tech, Louisville, Michigan, Mississippi State, Toledo, Troy, UCF, and Western Kentucky.
Reasons For Excitement
Experience: As a redshirt freshman, Bonner struggled a bit at cornerback, which caused some anxiety when he transitioned to free safety last spring. But, Bonner proved himself after a solid showing in 2012. His final stats for the season were 60 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, and one interception. That experience should benefit him this season.
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Versatility: The one thing I love about having all four defensive back positions under one coach now is it eases depth concerns. We quickly forget that both Bonner and Jarrett were cornerbacks before moving to safety. While I don’t see either of them moving to cornerback unless there is a crippling injury shortage, they both give Torrian Gray an emergency plan for a ‘just in case’ scenario.
Causes For Concern
More Playmaking Ability: There are a few things that I would like to see Bonner do a little better. The first is being a little more of a ballhawk. Having a safety that can intercept passes and change the game always benefits a defense. Last season, we had a combined one interception from our two safety positions. That needs to increase this season if Tech wants to win 10 games again. Also, I would love to see Bonner become a better open field tackler. He still struggles to maintain proper form when asked to make a one-on-one tackle. That is one area that concerns me if he gets matched up in a one-on-one situation with T.J. Yeldon against Alabama.
What to Expect in 2013
What I expect out of Bonner is another solid season of being our starting free safety. What I would like to see out of him is a multiple interception season and more pass breakups. Bonner didn’t make a ton of mental mistakes last season and did a solid job doing what he was asked to do. Now, it’s time from him to go from simply a starter to a player that offensive coordinators have to plan for. He has that potential but it’s up to Bonner on whether or not he gets to that level.
Bonner put a lot of Tech fan’s worries to rest after his performance last season. Hopefully, he continues to develop and can become an All-ACC performer this season.
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