Defensive coordinator Robb Akey says defensive unit is 'hungry' for 2019 season

RS Freshman Devonni Reed stops a rusher on Nov. 10 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Although current defensive coordinator Robb Akey wasn’t with with the Central Michigan football team a season ago, he still has to replace what talent left the program.

It just so happens that there are quite a few big names in terms of defensive production that are no longer with the Chippewas.

Defensive backs Sean Bunting and Xavier Crawford both left early for the 2019 NFL Draft. Linebackers Alex Briones, Malik Fountain and Trevor Apsey, who combined for 268 tackles in 2018, are graduating in May. Defensive end Mike Danna transferred to Michigan for his final season of college football after leading CMU with 9.5 sacks.

For a first year coach, it’s a lot to replace after being hired in early January.

However, Akey isn’t worried about it. He said every player has a clean slate due to the new coaching staff.

“We’ve got a group of guys that are fighting their tails off and are as hungry as can be,” Akey said. “That’s one of the things that has stood out to me since I’ve been here. These kids are anxious to get this built and take that opportunity.”


As mentioned earlier, the Chippewas will need to replace a pair of defensive backs that are projected to be drafted into the NFL.

When Akey began watching the film, two players that stuck out to him on the outside is a pair of sophomores in Brandon Brown and Darius Bracey.

Brown played in all 12 games in 2018, making 12 tackles while adding an interception. Bracey played in 11 games a season ago, making just one tackle. He showed his clear speed and athletic ability in the return game, returning two kicks for 45 yards.

Akey said that both players, who each stand at 5-foot-10, have shown great consistency this spring. He then mentioned 6-foot-2 sophomore Dishon McNary, saying he’s looked good so far. 

For leadership, however, he mentioned senior safety Da’Quaun Jamison. The 6-foot defensive back made 41 tackles a season ago with an interception, two forced fumbles and four pass breakups.

“Everyday so far, Da’Quaun has been out there making plays that are noticeable,” Akey said. “He’s doing things well.”

Akey also mentioned junior Alonzo McCoy and sophomore Devonni Reed as two solid options at safety. A season ago, Reed was second on the team in tackles with 97 of them, adding three pass breakups.

“(Reed) is very intense and very prideful and I think this matters a lot to him,” Akey said. “You see it in the ways he plays. He prepares hard and personally it means a lot to him.”


Out of all of the positions that got depleted for the CMU defense, this one took the hardest hit.

Apsey, Fountain and Briones were all a big part of the Chippewas defense for the past few seasons. Fountain alone totaled 401 tackles for his career with CMU.

The first player Akey mentioned when asked about people who can fill those shoes was Michael Oliver. 

The senior from Detroit dipped down in tackles from 2017 where he had 68, only totaling 31 in 2018. However, Akey likes the progress he is making this spring.

“I think getting him in a scrimmage situation last week really helped him where he could kind of settle in with the coaches off the field and go play some ball,” Akey said. “He’s studying his tail off, he’s a smart player and I think there is some leadership in there. He has an intensity in him that is really, really good.”

Akey then grouped together the rest by saying “they are fighting their tails off to show what they can do.” He mentioned sophomore Troy Brown, saying he is very athletic and can run. Akey then said fellow sophomore Andrew Ward as a guy who is working very hard.

Brown made 16 tackles with an interception in 10 games in 2018 while Ward made just one tackle in 11 games. 

“We’ve got a nice group of guys who have got some youth to them that are hungry and taking it all in,” Akey said. “We will continue to develop that and see who will come out of the wash.”

Defensive line

If there is one player Akey showed definite excitement for, it was redshirt freshman defensive lineman LaQuan Johnson. 

He made 15 tackles with two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss in just four games in 2018. It’s clear to Akey his ability was just starting to show last season.

“I’m excited for his future,” Akey said. “He’s a youngster who got his feet somewhat wet last year who has good size and quickness. I think he’s a great kid."

Akey continued to praise him for his ability to move around and raise havoc on the defensive line at 6-foot-3, 282 pounds.

When asked about Mike Danna’s departure and is it was expected, Akey’s reply was short and to the point.

“He’s not here, I’m not coaching him,” Akey quipped. 

Senior Sean Adesanya was the first player Akey mentioned when asked about replacing Danna. The transfer from Illinois made 29 tackles in 2018 with seven of them totaling 41 lost yards for opponents.

“(Adesanya) is a guy who had some good experience last year and showed some of his ability,” Akey said. “He’s shown some development through this spring.

“Then there’s a whole group of (defensive) ends who haven’t got a whole lot of experience that have spring ball to see how things will work out for them. Time is still telling.”