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Nevada football 2022 summer position preview: Defensive backs

The season kicks off in two days!

Nevada v Hawaii Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

The Nevada Wolf Pack football team, who suffered one of the biggest roster turnovers in recent Pack memory, will be kicking off in two days!!

Nevada lost its head coach to in-conference foe Colorado State as well as a bevy of transfers. Its top three skill threats — Carson Strong, Cole Turner and Romeo Doubs — elected to go to the NFL and the Pack return less than 30 percent of its production from a year, the lowest in the nation, per ESPN.

Until the start of the season, I will be previewing each unit of its roster each week.

So far, we have done quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, The Union, the defensive line and linebackers. Today, we preview the defensive backs — one of its most experienced units.

Without further ado, let’s jump into it below!

Anyone departing?

Jordan Lee

Lee — alongside linebackers Daiyan Henley and Lawson Hall — was one of Nevada’s top playmakers last season. Lee finished with 86 tackles, including five tackles-for-loss with four pass breakups, five fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles — the latter two being team highs. He was one of Nevada’s hardest hitters and blossomed as a swiss-army knife in the box and in coverage. He transferred to Washington State — along with Henley — this offseason.

Berdale Robins

Robins was the Pack’s top playmaker at corner. He finished with a career-high 29 tackles, but picked off three passes — tied for second-most on the team — with four pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 2021. As a 2020 All-Conference Honorable Mention honoree, he capped his Wolf Pack career with 90 tackles — 72 solo — with seven interceptions, 27 pass defelctions (!!), one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Mikael Bradford

Bradford never saw much action in his two eligible seasons (three total) at Nevada, where he played just 12 combined games with 40 combined tackles. In 2021, he totaled 11 tackles — with a half-tackle for loss — including five tackles against Boise State and Hawai’i.

AJ King

King was thrusted into action as a corner role right away in 2020 as a true freshman. In two seasons, he logged 52 tackles in 21 combined games, including 40 last season. He transferred to Colorado State earlier this offseason.

Zion Burns

Burns, a true freshman last year, was on the roster in spring but is not now. He played in just one game last year: the Quick Lane Bowl against Western Michigan.

Anyone returning?

Tyson Williams

Williams is perhaps Nevada’s most seasoned veteran in the secondary. Since the start of 2019, only Hall recorded more tackles than Williams, who had 188. After leading the team with 85 in 2019, the 5-foot-9 safety notched 98 combined tackles over the last two seasons, including 42 a season ago. He also had three interceptions with seven pass deflections. Though Williams is making a surprising transition to nickel corner, where he’ll likely be closer to the line-of-scrimmage, but tasked with more responsibility in coverage.

Emany Johnson

One of the bigger surprises when the depth chart was released was to see Johnson, one of the team’s most experienced defensive backs, listed as a backup. He appeared in all 13 games last year and racked up 17 tackles after combining for 60 in 2019-20.

JoJuan Claiborne

Claiborne was one of Nevada’s four returning defensive starters, but unfortunately suffered a major injury (undisclosed) in practice earlier this fall without a set date to return. His loss in the secondary is a big blow with Lee’s departure at safety; Claiborne was fourth on the team in tackles a year ago, finishing with 62, with five pass breakups and one forced fumble.

Tyriq Mack

The brother of Pack receiver Tyrese Mack, Tyriq Mack has played in just four games since joining Nevada prior to the 2020 season. He transferred from the City College of San Francisco, where he played just one season (in 2017), totaling 64 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and two interceptions.

Kacee Williams

Williams, who chose Nevada over Texas Tech, Washington State, Bowling Green, New Mexico and Texas State out of Central High School in Keller, Texas, has not played in three seasons with Nevada. Perhaps a new coaching staff changes that?

Zeke Robbins

A former JUCO transfer, Robbins has appeared in three combined games in each of the last two seasons, but has yet to record a stat. When he was at Butler Community College, he tallied 39 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss with a pair of pass deflections.

Jaden Dedman

Dedman appeared in seven games with seven tackles — one for loss — marking the third straight season he’s played at least seven games.

Aedan Seiuli

Seiuli, who played in just one game last season, is slotted to begin the season as the team’s starting strong safety ahead of Emany Johnson.

Bentlee Sanders

Sanders played four years at USF, primarily as a nickel corner, and transferred to the Wolf Pack prior to last season. He was one of the team’s best defensive backs, making 24 tackles and two pass breakups. At USF, he registered 94 career tackles, including 7.5 tackles-for-loss and five pass breakups.

Richard Toney

Toney did not make an appearance in his only collegiate season up to this point.

Chad Brown

Brown, who’s spent time at three different colleges — the others being Fresno City College and UCF — is entering his second season at Nevada. He played in three games with just two tackles last year.

Avery Carrington

Carrington made just two tackles in two games last year — the only stats he’s recorded since joining Nevada prior to the 2019 season.

Marquese Allen-Patmon

Allen-Patmon has not recorded a stat in two seasons with the Pack.

Christian Swint

Swint is entering his fourth season at Nevada — fifth overall. He appeared in eight games with 10 tackles last season; the former Compton High School graduate has appeared in 24 career games with 38 combined tackles with three pass breakups and one interception.

Micah Lilo

Lilo has played in just one game with Nevada over his first two seasons.

Micah Camat

Camat, a graduate of ‘lolani School in Honolulu, Hawai’i, has yet to make an appearance in two seasons with Nevada. He chose the Pack over San Diego, Hawai’i and Portland State, among others.

Isaiah Essissima

Essissima transferred from Wake Forest ahead of last season, doing a solid job in coverage. He posted 12 combined tackles with three pass breakups and one interception in 10 games. Essissima will be one of the main contributors on the outside in 2022.

Dorian Blackwell

A local graduate from Spanish Springs High School in Sparks, Nev., Blackwell, who has good size at 6-foot-2, did not make an appearance with the Wolf Pack last season.

Zach Lewis

Lewis appeared in just one game for the Wolf Pack last season as a freshman, making one tackle. As a senior at Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz., he racked up 49 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles with one fumble recovery.

Jayce Godley

After logging 13 tackles across 12 games in 2019, Godley’s barely seen the field since. The now-senior has played in just two contests with one tackle since.

Devin Gunter

The former Ridge Point High School graduate has played in 11 games with Nevada — 10 coming in 2021, when he tallied three tackles. He chose Nevada over Texas State, Stephen F. Austin and Incarnate Word, who Nevada will play this year, among others.

Any new faces?

KK Meier

Meier was one of Nevada’s late adds from Frenship High School in Wolfforth, Texas. As a senior, Meier — an unrated prospect — posted 43 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, four interceptions, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

KeeKee McQueen

Listed at 5-foot-9, McQueen, from Spanaway Lake High School in Spanaway, Wash., chose Nevada over UNLV, Eastern Washington and Utah State, per 247Sports. As a senior, he registered 31 tackles and 2.5 tackles-for-loss. He totaled 91 tackles throughout his high school career.

Here’s what Mountain West Connection’s recruiting guru and site manager Mike Wittmann had to say regarding McQueen:

“Keekee is a two-way athlete coming in to play on the defensive side of the ball. He displays excellent speed which aids him in both man and zone coverages. McQueen tracks the ball well in the air and times his jumps well to make a play on the ball. He is also a physical tackler and isn’t afraid to make a hard hit in the open field. Keekee should slot in nicely as a cornerback who can play in multiple different defensive styles.

“He sees the field well with great vision playing deep and possesses great closing speed to make a play. McQueen can highpoint the ball as good or better than wide receivers and isn’t afraid to be physical when receivers come over the middle of the field. He positions himself well as a deep safety who can roam all over the field to go where the action is. Charles may be able to see some early playing time if he adjusts to the speed of the college game quickly enough.”

Darion Green-Warren

Green-Warren was one of Nevada’s highest recruits this offseason, transferring from Michigan as a four-star recruit (top-200 nationally), per He was buried on the Wolverine depth chart without any game experience.

Here’s what Wittmann said regarding Green-Warren:

Darion is a transfer from Michigan who is coming to play cornerback. He plays tight coverage on receivers while also keeping his eyes on the quarterback so he can track the ball. Green-Warren reads plays well and displays a great burst when running to the line of scrimmage on run plays or passes in the flat. He is a physical tackler in the open field who doesn’t let ball carriers get away from him. Darion will boost the talent in the secondary and is likely to play right away.