The line in Charlotte’s 3-4 defense will be one of the more interesting areas to watch. It’s talented, but neither deep nor experienced. Noseguard Larry Ogunjobi established himself early as one of the team’s top players. Brandon Banks (6-foot-3, 270 pounds) and James Middleton (6-4, 265) are rangy, fast ends. Devon Johnson, a transfer from Georgia Military, should get some playing time, as well.
The Observer asked senior safety Desmond Cooper to introduce his defensive teammates. Here’s Cooper’s take on players on and off the field:
Larry Ogunjobi, redshirt freshman noseguard
“You would think he would be a big loud guy, but he’s actually a gentleman. On the field, he’s different. He can be an animal. But he’s very studious and loves to be in his books.”
James Middleton, redshirt freshman end
“He’s a great player, a great athlete and was a really good high school basketball player. When we play pickup, you see him running point guard. He also does great impressions of all the characters on the Disney’s Proud Family.”
Brandon Banks, redshirt freshman end
“He’s another great athlete who is really fast for his size. It always surprises me how these guys move so fast carrying all that size. But he’s good at everything he does. We’re going bowling this afternoon and I bet he’s good at that.”
Another spot where the 49ers have experience and talent. Mark Hogan, a three-year starter at Georgia State, former walk-on Nico Alcalde, walk-on Tyler DeStefani (a transfer from Newberry who played in high school at Charlotte’s United Faith) and Mark Pettit will play on the outside. Inside, there’s former 49ers pitcher Micah Bryan, Terry Caldwell, Caleb Clayton-Molby (Georgia Military) and Kendal Parker.
Mark Hogan, senior outside linebacker
“He would be the grandpa of the team. He’s a grad student, so I haven’t seen him out and about much.”
Nico Alcalde, redshirt freshman outside linebacker
“He is an awesome swimmer and is great at snowboarding. He’s great at anything with a board, so I would say he’s a natural boarder. He worked his way to his scholarship and he’ll be great when his body starts to fill out.”
Mark Pettit, redshirt freshman outside linebacker
“He’s a big goofy guy, but he’s great at cutting hair. When anybody on the team needs a haircut, we can go to Mark. I go to him all the time, probably once every two weeks.”
Tyler DeStefani, junior outside linebacker
“He’s another older player, who worked his way from the bottom. He’s a local and is another one of those quiet guys. We don’t really hear that much from him.”
Micah Bryan, junior inside linebacker
“He’s very quiet when he’s around people he doesn’t know. But you get him around people he knows, he can’t stop. He has a very country accent, from out in the middle of nowhere in North Wilkesboro. He’s a country kid mixed with a city kid.”
Terry Caldwell, redshirt freshman inside linebacker
“He’s a beach bum from out there in Wilmington. He loves everything about the beach. He hates cold weather. Every time you see him, he’s got a tank top on. He’ll be a leader and he’s a freak of an athlete.”
The 49ers are set at safety with two former FBS recruits (Wake Forest’s Desmond Cooper and South Carolina’s Martay Mattox). The corners are less experienced, with redshirt freshmen Tank Norman, Greg Cunningham (West Charlotte) and Terrance Winchester (Berry) in the mix.
Martay Mattox, junior strong safety
“He was very quiet at first but then he opened up. He likes old-school rap, he’s not into new rap. He’s always got his headphones on out here at practice. He’s got great awareness on the field, has great speed and he will come up and hit you.”
Tank Norman, redshirt freshman cornerback
“He does a good ‘Lilo & Stitch;’ that’s another Disney movie. He’s a bigger guy who played quarterback in high school. All these guys are so young, it’s great to see them grow.”
Terrance Winchester, redshirt freshman cornerback
“He’s the comedian of the locker room. If anybody is down, T-Dub is there cracking people up. He makes fun of people in a joking manner that makes us all laugh.”
Desmond Cooper, junior free safety
“Another old guy. I get the nickname of coach Cooper. Somehow everybody thinks I know what’s going on, but half the time I just want to come out here and practice! I love to see these guys grow. It’s not about me.”
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