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Dermmell Reed has heard the talk. He's heard people say the BYU secondary is in big trouble after three of its top four cornerbacks in spring ball were expelled and an assistant coach took a job at Oklahoma State during the summer.

He doesn't want to hear it anymore."People say we're not going to be very good, but I can honestly say we're going to be as good, or even better, in the secondary this year," Reed said. "We're going to be much more physical. People will see we can get the job done."

Certainly losing Greg Steele, James Humes and James Heggins due to honor code violations hurts the Cougars' depth at the corners. The secondary took another hit early this week when senior safety Jon Pollack's chronic lower back problems resurfaced and he was lost for the season.

Still, the coaches and players seem optimistic - at least for the first team.

Reed, a 5-9, 170-pound senior, started last season. He had 29 tackles and seven pass deflections, but no interceptions. He is slated to start on the right corner with junior college transfer Tim McTyer (5-11, 170) on the left.

"We don't have much depth, so we'll count on Dermmell (Reed) and McTyer a lot," new cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell said. "I think it's realistic for each one of them to get five or six interceptions. They have good athletic ability."

James Dye, a transfer from Utah State by way of Utah Valley State College, was signed as a receiver but has been moved to cornerback - a position he had played in the past. The 5-9, 150 pounder is the fastest of the members of the secondary. Dye and redshirt freshman Dustin Staley (5-11, 185) will be the top backups at the corners.

The starting safeties will be Jamie Cook (6-0, 195), a returning starter, on the strong side and Eddie Sampson (6-2, 195) as the free safety. Cook had 50 tackles, one interception and six pass deflections last season. Sampson had 23 tackles a year ago. The backup safeties will be Lane Hale, a 6-1, 190 pound junior and redshirt freshman Jason Walker (6-1, 190) from Springville High.

The secondary starters would rate a B+, but the lack of depth at these important - and injury prone - positions knocks the grades down a notch or two.