Spiders Secondary Looks To Continue Significant Growth Under Rod West

With the advent of the spread offenses in college football, matching up and covering on the back-end has become more important than ever. 

Secondaries also have to be versatile enough to handle the many different personnel groupings and formations that opposing offenses will throw at them. When you look at the Richmond Spiders, and subsequently their secondary, it becomes clear that they don't just get it, they thrive.

One major reason why is the presence of cornerbacks coach and defensive pass game coordinator Rod West. 

West is entering his third season with the Spiders, having spent the first two seasons coaching the dime backs. Success has followed West wherever he has been. Whether it was as a starting cornerback at Alabama State, or coaching all-conference performers at Morehead State, Texas A&M-Commerce and Chattanooga, West gets results. 

And it’s not just about coaching players to garner individual success, the pass defense as a whole has improved significantly at all three stops. That improvement isn’t by happenstance, it’s the result of his process.

West outlined his non-negotiables at the position during a recent conversation.

“Defensive backs have to have a fundamental skill set, and we work every day on our ‘ABC’s: agility drills, ball drills and contact drills.” West explained. “Every drill we incorporate is with the purpose of developing one of these skills.”

Last season, at the Fordham game, and saw the Spiders' secondary ace their ‘spelling test’ so to speak, as they routed the Rams 52-7. In that game, both Dionte Austin and Samari Springs picked off passes and had five tackles each. Corner Markus Vinson also finished with five tackles. Senior safety Daniel Jones was in on a pair of pass breakups and three tackles, himself.

Needless to say, it was a banner day for the secondary, following Coach West’s non-negotiables for excellent, consistent play.

Speaking of the Spiders secondary, it’s hard to ignore the way they are constructed as a unit. 

It’s one thing to have size and length, it’s another thing to play with size and length. The Spiders have both on the backend. CB Markus Vinson is the “smallest” defensive back at 5-11, 180 pounds—everyone else is at least 6-1. This poses a problem for opposing quarterbacks because it shrinks passing windows, and forces a quarterback to be consistent with his placement of the ball, and deadly accurate. 

It’s very hard to throw around taller defensive backs, and Richmond has an abundance of riches at that position.

The development of senior Trent Williams has been a great thing for this secondary, as the 6-2, 185-pound Chester, Va., native blossomed last season—his first as a full-time starter—seeing starts at both corner and safety. Williams finished with 42 tackles, an interception, and six pass breakups, which was second on the team.

West was a big reason for the jump in Williams’ play, as he has a great way of instilling competitive confidence into his players. He spoke on coaching what he calls his “3 Cs of Cornerback Play,” which are confidence, competition, and composure.

“I’m convinced that you can’t be a good DB without these three traits. Everyone talks about the physical attributes, but this is our foundation.” West describes. “Confidence comes from documented success over a period of time. We compete at everything we do, in every endeavor of life; competition is not a part-time thing. And when it comes to composure, we have one simple motto, ‘no matter how bad any situation seems, never panic.’” 

The unit also gets a big time addition in graduate transfer Brandon Feamster (6-3, 205), who comes over from Duke. 

Feamster started seven games last year for the Blue Devils, capping off his career with an interception in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl. He’s a big, physical corner that shows strength in run support. So, he already understands the philosophy of Coach West’s 'ABCs' of the position and should be an immediate impact player for the Spiders.

West shows an ability to get quick buy-in from his players, both the ones he coaches and the ones he’s able to reach on the recruiting trail. When you combine those traits as a coach, and his ability to teach scheme, from back-to-front, it won’t be long before you start to hear his name mentioned for future coordinator or head coaching opportunities.  

Rod West is a rising star in the coaching ranks.

Villanova Sends A Message With Season-Opening Demolition Of Colgate

If Saturday’s college football season opener was any indication, Villanova may be back.

Living Legend Terry Curtis Leads UMS-Wright Into Freedom Bowl

If you want to know what sustained success looks like then turn your attention to Terry Curtis.

2019 CAA Preview: Villanova Wildcats

Last season, the Villanova Wildcats were riding high after upsetting and defeating Philadelphia-area rival Temple. It was the first time in almost a decade that the 'Cats were able to pull off the FCS-over-FBS victory, finally doing so after coming close in previous installments of the rivalry game.

Live This Week: Aug. 29-31, 2019

The 2019 Freedom Bowl Is LIVE On Flo

We did it, folks. We survived the long offseason and will now be rewarded with a weekend full of fantastic high school and college football.

The 7 Best Uncommitted Players At The Freedom Bowl

The 2019 Freedom Bowl Is LIVE On Flo

Nearly 20 three-star and above prospects will be on display this weekend at the Freedom Bowl, and while the majority of them are committed, there remains plenty of talent still looking for the school they will play for at the next level. 

Toughest CAA Non-Conference Schedules

In case you somehow missed the news, FloFootball will be the home of 70 Colonial Athletic Association games this season and we couldn't be more excited.

Stony Brook Enters 2019 With Playmakers & Postseason Aspirations

It took some time, but Stony Brook football transitioned nicely into Colonial Athletic Association membership. After four straight, 5-win seasons, the Seawolves broke out with a 10-3 campaign in 2017.

2019 CAA Preview: New Hampshire Wildcats

Strange as it may sound, there’s no place University of New Hampshire safety Pop Lacey would rather have Thanksgiving dinner this year than the UNH dining hall. Lacey’s preference has less to do with the quality of the food served on campus than it does with the length of his team’s season.

Catching Up With Stony Brook's Sam Kamara

As the 2019 college football season approaches, the Stony Brook Seawolves look to continue to build on the success they had in 2018. One way to ensure that happens, is by leaning on what looks to be a strong defense at all three levels. 

Ricky Santos Is Back Home In New Hampshire's Quarterback Room


Only the most ardent University of New Hampshire football fans gave the Wildcats a chance to be competitive in their 2004 game at Rutgers. Even that group became less optimistic when it was announced that UNH starting quarterback Mike Granieri would miss the Rutgers game with a knee injury suffered a week earlier against Delaware.