WASHINGTON - The Georgetown University football team is in its third week of preseason and is working hard toward its season opener at Campbell University on September 9. Throughout the month of August, GUHoyas.com will take an in-depth look at each of the team's position groups, with this edition featuring the defensive backs.
The GU defense led the Patriot League in scoring defense last season (23.3 ppg), ranked second in turnovers gained (22) and third-down conversion defense (.382) as well as third in rushing defense (155.8 ypg). The Hoyas not only led the conference, but ranked second in the entire country in red zone defense, allowing opponents to score on just 29-of-45 red zone attempts.
The defensive backfield was a major force for the Hoyas in 2016, accounting for nearly a third of the team’s tackles and 11 of Georgetown’s 22 turnovers. The Blue & Gray return all 10 members of its secondary from a season ago, including four who recorded at least 50 tackles, while also adding five talented freshmen to the depth chart.
“It has been a good preseason so far,” said Assistant Coach Maurice Banks, who works with the defensive backs along with Harrison Bernstein. “This group of guys is pretty competitive and everyone is working together to achieve the same goal. We have a lot of work to get done, but we’re getting there.”
Senior David Akere (Carrolton, Texas/Hebron), one of Georgetown’s two No. 35 Joe Eacobacci Memorial Jersey recipients this season, finished second on the team in 2016 with 77 total tackles. He tied for the team lead with five pass breakups and was second on the defense with two interceptions while also forcing two fumbles and recovering another. Fellow senior Jelani Williamson (Silver Spring, Md./Good Counsel) tied for the Patriot League lead with four interceptions last season, while also recording 50 tackles and forcing a fumble.
Junior Blaise Brown (New Orleans, La./St. Augustine/Loomis Chaffee) was sixth on the defense with 55 tackles while classmate Ramon Lyons (Orlando, Fla./Ocoee/West Orange) was seventh with 52. Both also recorded an interception and Lyons was third on the squad with 6.0 tackles-for-loss (TFL). Fellow junior Jethro Francois (Miami, Fla./Winter Haven/Victory Christian Academy), a 2016 Preseason All-Patriot League selection, played in nine games and recorded 37 tackles and 2.5 TFL while also adding an interception and a fumble recovery.
Seniors Jake Johnson (Corapolis, Pa./West Allegheny) and Larenz Griggs (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King Jr.) combined for seven tackles last season and Johnson returned an interception for 48 yards in the season opener against Davidson. Sophomore Jalen Goldwire (Plantation, Fla./Western) will look to build on a strong freshman campaign where he recorded eight tackles and an interception in the end zone against Harvard. Sophomores Leon Agee (Laurel, Miss./Robert S. Alexander) and Ryan White-Boyd (Wilton Manors, Fla./South Plantation) will both look to contribute in the GU backfield after seeing time on special teams.
“We’ve got a good group of returners who have stepped up and taken the lead,” Banks said. “David Akere works a lot with our younger guys at safety and Jelani Williamson does the same thing with our cornerbacks. Jake Johnson and Larenz Griggs are key parts of our secondary and both push guys while working extremely hard. They all have taken the lead on helping the young guys pick up on what we are doing. And they keep us coaches in line as well.
“Then you’ve got guys like Jethro Francois and Blaise Brown who have played a lot of snaps. Ramon Lyons played a lot for us last year and Jalen Goldwire got some time as a freshman and is going to be a key part of what we do. Leon Agee is a great athlete who has made a lot of improvement and is fighting for playing time. Ryan White-Boyd is a bookworm and has been great helping the freshmen.”
Five freshmen have also joined the defensive backfield this fall, giving Banks a very deep and talented secondary. Andre Danove (New Orleans, La./Archbishop Rummel), Cameron Deen (Fort Washington, Md./Oxon Hill), Dawson Hawkins (Sugar Land, Texas/George Ranch), Jonathan Honore (St. Louis, Mo./Timberland) and Roemello Walton (Miami, Fla./Miami Norland) will all fight for playing time both on defense and special teams.
“The freshman class is talented and they are pushing for playing time right now,” Banks said. “The two safeties – Dawson Hawkins and Jonathan Honore – have a lot of talent to them. We have got to get them used to our system. And then all of our corners – Andre Danove, Roemello Walton and Cameron Deen – they are gifted athletes. They have got some size on them and they can run. It’s making for some hard decisions, but that is good to have.”