NASHVILLE --- The last three seasons, the Tigers have relied on three-time All-Ohio Valley Conference First Team selection, Ebenezer “Ebo” Ogundeko, to lead the charge. With Ogundeko off with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League, the Big Blue will look to veteran Dell Porter, Alabama transfer Mekhi Brown and a host of youngsters to control the outside.
Porter has played in 28 games during his career, including all 11 a season ago. The redshirt senior gathered 28 tackles, fifth highest amount for a returner, 13 of which were solo, 4.0 for loss and teamed on a sack. Porter, who forced a fumble in 2017, has emerged as a leader for the front.
Brown brings experience and a championship mentality to the unit. The redshirt junior transfer was a member of the Crimson Tides national championship teams in 2015 and 2017.
James Green played in 11 games as a freshman, giving him valuable playing experience as he looks to step for Blair Edwards, who moves back inside. Green will be backed by redshirt sophomore Desmond Johnson, who is making the move from the defensive backfield.
The Tigers will receive depth from redshirt freshman Justin Brown and newcomer Dewayne Johnson.
Redshirt junior Mekhi Brown
- On the LEOS
“I feel like as a group, we’re very close-knit. We spend a lot of time together outside of football. We just have a great time. It’s like a family.”
- On the biggest adjustment going from linebacker to LEO
“For me, even in high school, I played with my hand down. I played standing up too. I think I’m a natural linebacker but can play multiple positions.”
- On the goals of the defense
“We all have individual goals, but we want to be the best defense in America pass-wise, run defense-wise. We just want to be the best in the country. I know a lot of guys want to be All-OVC, All-American. We have a lot of guys who can do that.”
Freshman Dewayne Johnson
- On first game
“Coming into the season we have Bethune-Cookman coming with a lot of speed. We have to match the intensity, still play key and sound football. That’s what TSU always does.”
-On individual improvements from the beginning of camp to now
“From the beginning of camp, I came in as a young guy just trying to learn from the older guys. Now, coming into the season I’m serving my role as a young guy, helping the older guys out, giving good reads and good looks.”
Redshirt Sophomore Desmond Johnson
- On preparing for week one
“We’ve been watching a lot of film, watching Bethune’s formations, we’ve also been going against a scout team, taking a lot of reps as well as mental reps.”
- On transition from camp to classes
“The transition is pretty cool. We’re now just regular student-athletes. We’re not in camp anymore, it’s a bit more relaxing, but we have to stay on our Ps and Qs because there are a lot more distractions around, so we have to make sure we know why we’re here.”
- On accountability partner
“I would honestly say James Green. We play the same position; I look to him for help and vice versa. I feel like we lean on each other when we need each other and we’re going to be good this year.”
Sophomore James Green
- On preparations for week one
“We’re just going over the base things right now, scouting Bethune. Nothing new to us. We’re just making sure we play fast, run to the ball and play as one.”
- On playing with little brother, CB Josh Green
“It’s a blessing in disguise. You know we’ve been playing together all of our lives, so just to have him on the college level, playing together again is awesome.”
-On transition from camp to classes
“It’s basically the same thing. We have to wake up early, get to class, and at the end of the day, it’s about handling your responsibilities. That’s it.”
- On leaders
“We’re all leading. We all have a part that we do to help. We all hold each other accountable and we lead each other.”