Johnson City, Tenn. (Aug. 22, 2002) - One of the bright spots of East Tennessee State's football squad in 2002 should be its defense. With all 11 starters back from last year's team, the Buccaneers could produce one of the top defenses in the Southern Conference.
An important core of the defense this season for ETSU will be its linebacking corps. It is a deep and talented group this season, one that will build on last year's experience. The group is led by junior Mike Cornegay (Fayetteville, N.C.), who was among the SoCon leaders with 101 tackles and three forced fumbles. So far during the preseason, linebacker coach Billy Taylor is pleased with the progress his troops have made, despite some bumps and bruises the group has suffered.
"We have had some injuries, but we came into the season knowing that we were two deep at every position," said Taylor. "Justin Reinier (Panorama City, Calif.) has had a very good fall practice so far and has improved greatly from last fall to this year. One of our young guys, Daren Wilson (Georgetown, S.C.) has stepped up and is going to be a good football player for us. Our most pleasant surprise this year has been the play of a true freshman, Mike Cullen (Roswell, Ga.). He has great instincts and very good speed; he's going to play a lot of football for us. We should be fine, the guys that have been missing practice are veterans and understand the defense."