VIDEO: Anthony Toribio Interview
Much like many of the other positions on the defensive side of the football, Carson-Newman's defensive line is marked by a group that faced tremendous injury-based adversity in 2015, leading to a good amount of depth in 2016.
Carson-Newman has a pair of first team All-SAC performers on the d-line in end Phalen Booker (Waveland, Miss.) and tackle Brian Bembry (Parrish, Fla.). Not to mention the position grows stronger with the addition of Brandon Staton (Barnwell, S.C.) who was the team's third leading tackler last year with 68 stops.
"It's a great group of guys," Toribio said. "Phalen has become the bell cow. He's the leader and gets the whole team riled up. Brandon brings a lot from the linebackers and a better understanding of what's going on in the game. His work ethic is unmatched."
Toribio pointed to Jordan Pryce, CT Leavell, Ross Pryor, Hayden Hester and Jonathan Mason as returners who could further make an impact; and newcomers Keante Moore, Montel Presley and Robert Murphy as precocious upstarts.
"This line is still very young," Toribio said. "You only lose one senior. You never like to think about last year, but it's amazing to think what these guys can accomplish as redshirt freshmen and sophomores."
Booker was fifth in the league with 10.5 tackles for loss and second in the league with six sacks. Booker turned in a pair of sacks in the Eagles' win over Wingate. He had a trio of games with multiple tackles for loss, beginning with a career high three against North Greenville. Booker also turned in two stops behind the line against Mars Hill and Wingate. He finished the season with 40 tackles, a pass break up, three forced fumbles and five quarterback hurries.
Bembry started all 12 games for Carson-Newman as a defensive tackle. He produced 33 tackles in his freshman season with 13 stops behind the line of scrimmage and 3.5 sacks. His 13 tackles for loss led the team and were third in the South Atlantic Conference. His 3.5 tackles for loss against Limestone (10/31) were a season high both for Bembry as an individual and Carson- Newman as a team.
"It reminds me of my senior year," Toribio said. "We had a little bit more depth and were able to rotate. As a big guy, you're in six or seven plays, you gotta tap that helmet. This will enable us to have a next men mentality so those big guys aren't out there 12 straight plays."
Carson-Newman football's position previews resume Thursday with C-N's wide receivers and assistant coach Dino Waites.