As the Memphis Tigers make the move to the Big East/American Athletic Conference in 2013, they will need their defense to lead the way. With questions marks abounding on the offensive side of the ball, Memphis will need playmakers to emerge on defense to keep games close if the Tigers have any shot at being competitive in their new conference. Can their big man in the middle, defensive tackle Johnnie Farms, step up and lead them next season?
The 6-foot-2, 300-pound senior has the size to be a major stop-gap in the middle of the defensive line. Last season, he finished No. 10 on the team with 38 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He created some major plays for the Memphis defense in 2012, adding a pair of forced fumbles to his stat sheet as well. As a senior in 2013, he’ll be tasked with doing even more as a leader of the defensive front.
And the expectations for Farms extend beyond the Memphis locker room. Phil Steele named Farms to the preseason All-American Athletic Conference team as part of three Memphis players to make the first team. Farms was joined by a pair of special teams specialists with the honor and headlines a defense that saw four members named to one of the four All-Conference teams. There is a talented core to this Memphis defense, but Farms must stand out as the best.
In order for Memphis to hold strong as they navigate their new conference next season, Farms has to step up and become an even bigger disruptive force on the interior line. If he can do that, the Tigers could be in the mix down the stretch.