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October 30, 2013

'Friendly' DB Competition

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It didn't take long for freshman cornerback Kendall Fuller to notice fellow freshman cornerback Brandon Facyson.

As Fuller spoke with reporters last night, Facyson casually moved up behind the reporters and tried to blend in with the interview. Moments later, Fuller made sure he knew of his roommate Facyson's presence, when talking about who would have the most interceptions.

"I told him I was gonna try to beat him," Fuller said. "There's definitely gonna be a competition."

Fuller then looked up at Facyson to add, "Yeah, you heard it right."

For the first seven games, there was competition among the two, as well as senior cornerback Kyle Fuller. But with the return of senior cornerback Antone Exum Saturday from a torn ACL and meniscus in the off-season and a finally healthy secondary, there will be even more competition for the defensive backs to keep their spots.

In Exum's absence, the two freshmen have taken advantage of their opportunities. Facyson has four interceptions this season. But with Facyson out following a concussion Oct. 20 and Exum back in the lineup against Duke, the younger Fuller had three interceptions to give him five on the season.

"We talk about it a lot," Kendall said of the battle for most interceptions. "We told each other we were gonna try to go one-two in interceptions. It might be tough now, having Kyle and Antone back."

Facyson expects to play Saturday against Boston College after sitting out the loss to Duke. In the days following the concussion, he said his eyes were sensitive to light and he had headaches, giving the training staff reason to hold him out of the game. But Facyson said he's back to full-go now.

Kyle Fuller also expects to return, after missing the Duke game with an injured groin.

There's been talk since Exum was cleared to play before the North Carolina game about the shakeup to the secondary. And while Facyson said he could still play wide receiver some, he's simply glad to have Exum back.

"Really, we just take it every week," Facyson said. "Of course, when Antone got back, I knew playing time would be limited. But I'm trying to go in and play like a starter, every day at practice. I'm happy Antone's back. Everyone else is too and I know he's glad to be back. But you know, it hurts. I was out one game and that cur me deep, honestly. I can only imagine how he felt and I'm just glad he's back, working to full health."

Exum though, isn't quite back to his old self. Assistant coach Torrian Gray said he's close and has made progress, but the old Exum hasn't shown himself yet.

"I tease him, he's number one, so I told him he's about .83 right now," Gray said. "We're waiting for him to get to that full, 1.0 type of deal. But this game, I think he'll be better and then the next couple of games, we expect him to be back to number one again."

The nine interceptions between Kendall Fuller and Facyson have certainly been impressive so far. And while it might change how many chance they both get for the rest of the season, it doesn't change their drive to out-perform each other.

"Coming in, we kinda all knew what our roles were gonna be," Kendall said. "It's just, having Antone coming back, the depth that we can have. People have a history of playing multiple positions, so Coach Gray can change us from here to there and things like that. It just brings more depth for all of us."


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