OGDEN — No group lost more experience in the offseason for Weber State football than the defensive secondary, and one of the key reinforcements it added for 2019 will miss the season due to injury.
Desmond Williams, a junior safety and transfer from Boise State, recently tore his right ACL and will miss the upcoming season, head coach Jay Hill confirmed Wednesday.
“That really hurts,” Hill said. “He was playing really good for us in camp.”
The 5-foot-11 athlete from Corona, California, was expected to start at strong safety to boost the group’s depth and playmaking ability this season.
Williams came to Weber State with two years of eligibility left after three seasons at Boise State, largely playing a role in nickel packages there after signing as a three-star prep prospect. He is likely to get a medical hardship waiver to recoup his season and still have two years left at WSU.
Despite the quantity of secondary snaps lost from last season — Jordan Preator, Parker Preator, Jawian Harrison, Keilan Benjamin and Jeremy Maxwell all used up their eligibility and senior-to-be Trey Hoskins has not been with the team since January — Hill says his starters are ready to go.
At safety, Hill said Preston Smith, already a likely starter, stands out at the position. Smith, a junior, has played in 26 games and last year recorded 28 tackles. He returned an interception 27 yards and a fumble 86 yards, the latter for a touchdown, against Northern Arizona last season.
“He’ll pick up just exactly where he left off,” Hill said. “And Brody Burke, I’m excited to see where he’s at ... Ja’Kobe Harris has shown signs of being a great player. Hopefully we can have him game ready in the next two weeks.”
Hill also pointed to sophomore safety Aaron Sessions as an emerging playmaker. Sessions joined Weber State as a walk-on last season and found a role on special teams as a long snapper — but in high school, he was an all-state safety for 4A state champion Sheridan High School in Wyoming.
“He’s a tough kid, does things right, he’s earning the trust and confidence of coaches and teammates,” Hill said. “He was a kid last year who got put in a really tough situation becoming our long snapper midseason and did a phenomenal job. He’s game-tested for us in a lot of areas, now we’ve just got to get him more comfortable with the defense.”
A pecking order at cornerback has emerged as well.
“I really like the top three corners,” Hill said. “Eddie Heckard, Marque Collins and David Jones — those guys can play ... we can win with all three of those guys, for sure.”
Collins played in all 13 games as a freshman last season, recording one interception. Jones, a junior, ran for 405 yards at running back in 2017, moved to defensive back last season and became a playmaker on punt coverage. Heckard, a sophomore, played in three games in 2018 before an injury ended his season.
Hill said freshman Maxwell Anderson has emerged as the fourth corner but needs to improve given his inexperience.
Senior and former Clearfield prep player Jacques Carter, redshirt freshman Fred Dangtuw, and true freshman Jacob Sharp round out depth at cornerback.
“There’s some good, young guys coming up in that group. We’ll just see how those guys continue to develop.”