SE: Focus is on Building Depth in Secondary

Tom Hayes is in his second year on the K-State staff and his first as the defensive coordinator

Aug. 22, 2012

Editor’s Note: K-State Sports Extra continues its nine-part look at the 2012 Wildcats with each assistant coach taking an in-depth look at his respective position. Past articles include the quarterbacks, defensive ends, interior defensive line, offensive line, linebackers and running backs/tight ends. Today, we discuss the secondary with defensive coordinator Tom Hayes.

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By Mark Janssen

Tom Hayes echoes his head coach when talking about the goals he has for the secondary during fall camp: “The biggest thing is to build a solid two-deep and that takes time. I’m guessing that won’t be determined before the week of the first game, but I’m confident that we’ll have a solid two-deep.”

K-State returns both cornerbacks from a year ago in Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman.

“The good news is that we have them back,” said Hayes, K-State’s defensive coordinator and coach of the secondary. “The bad news is we just got them from City College of San Francisco, and now they have only one year left. Nigel really had a nice year last year, and Chapman grew as the season went on.”

Malone, a 5-foot-10, 185-pounder, was an immediate success, starting all 13 games in 2011 as he was named one of 15 semifinalists for the Thorpe Award. Along with earning First Team All-Big 12 honors, Malone was also a Second Team Walter Camp All-American and third team All-American by the Associated Press.

“Nigel has an instinct for playing the game at a very high level,” said Hayes of Malone, who was in on 58 tackles with 17 passes defended and seven interceptions. “He’s an aggressive guy, who is a good tackler and just plays sharp. He had seven interceptions, but had three others that he dropped, so he just has the knack for those takeaway plays.”

On the flip side of the field, Chapman, who is 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, scored 45 tackles with an interception. Chapman had his biggest game against Texas Tech with 11 solo tackles, while he picked off a pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown at No. 3 Oklahoma State.

“Allen has a nice skill level and plays with a good instinct as well,” said Hayes. “With the reputation that Nigel earned last year, Allen might be picked on more this year. That can be a lonely position to play, so he’ll need to play with focus.”

Depth at the position will come from youngsters in redshirt freshman Morgan Burns (5-11, 195) from Wichita’s Trinity Academy, plus Donny Starks (5-11, 180, Fr.) from Crosby, Texas, and Randall Evans (6-0, 190, So.) from Miami, Fla.

In the middle of the field at the co-safety positions will be Ty Zimmerman (6-1, 203, Jr.) and Thomas Ferguson (6-0, 202, Sr.).

“Zim’s a returning two-year starter. He has that good experience, and he’s a good leader,” said Hayes. “He just keeps working and improving on the weaknesses that he has.”

Coming to K-State as a quarterback, Zimmerman has played all 26 games of his career at safety, notching a total of 132 tackles. Last year he earned honorable mention All-Big 12 recognition from the league’s coaches after a season where he registered 58 tackles. Twelve of those came at Oklahoma State with seven of those being solo.

Joining Zimmerman will be Ferguson, who was ranked as the 79th-best cornerback in the nation coming out of Grand Prairie South High School in Texas.

Ferguson has played in 33 K-State games with a total of 17 tackles.

“Fergy played well on special teams last year and is a kid who likes to hit,” said Hayes. “He’s worked hard and has learned to play well with Ty. They know each other and are working hard to play well together.”

For depth, Evans can play both cornerback and safety, plus Jarard Milo (6-2, 195, Sr.) and newcomer Kent Gainous (6-1, 190, Jr.) from Trinity Valley Community College will be competing for snaps.

For the entire group, Hayes said, “August is not a fun time, but it’s a time to work hard and develop some consistency. It’s a time where players earn the right to play in the fall.”

• Malone is one of the team’s player representatives
• Malone was voted as the nation’s fourth-best defensive back by Lindy’s preseason publication
• As a freshman, Ty Zimmerman was named an All-American by Phil Steele
• Zimmerman led his Junction City High School team to a 13-0 record in 2008 when he rushed for 1,046 yards and passed for 1,920 yards. His father, Randall, is the Blue Jay’s head coach.

• Played defensive back at Iowa from 1967-71, and later coached the Hawkeyes in 1977 and 1978, which was prior to the arrival of coach Bill Snyder
• Division I coaching stops at Iowa, Cal State Fullerton, UCLA, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Kansas, Stanford and Tulane
• Served as interim head coach at Kanas in 2001
• In the NFL ranks, Hayes coached with the Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints
• Has coached in 14 bowl games with four different teams

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