Fresh Faces at Illinois State: Versatile DB Tracy leaned on ex-Redbird before transfer

Indiana transfer Larry Tracy III (14) said he will play free safety and nickel cornerback for a revamped ISU secondary this fall. (Photo by IU Athletics)

By Barry Bottino

When Larry Tracy III was considering a transfer from Indiana University to Illinois State, he reached out to several people to get the scoop on the Redbirds.

One voice in particular – former ISU quarterback Bryce Jefferson – provided Tracy with plenty of helpful knowledge.

“Bryce was my quarterback for three years in high school,” said Tracy, a graduate of Decatur Central in Indianapolis. “He told me this was a great place to come work hard, and your hard work will be rewarded.”

Tracy is one of four Fresh Faces this fall at Illinois State, chosen by Prairie State Pigskin, to take on important roles on the field.

Larry Tracy III

The rewards thus far for Tracy, one of three new additions to the Illinois State secondary from the transfer portal, have been working at free safety and nickel cornerback in the Redbirds’ traditionally tough defense.

“I’m interchangeable,” Tracy said of his strengths. “When I came here, I didn’t actually know what position I was going to play. I knew I could adjust and fit those roles they wanted me to play.

“It was a smooth transition once I got to be around the guys,” he said.

Tracy, a junior, played in 14 games over the past two seasons for the Hoosiers, mostly at cornerback. But his versatility should make him a key piece of a revamped secondary, which also will include Central Arkansas transfer Deandre Lamont and Bowling Green transfer Sy Dabney.

“As a safety, I can help make plays all over the field and in coverage,” he said. “I’m a good tackler. That’s one thing I’ve always worked on. Whether you play corner, safety or nickel, you’re going to have to bring a guy down. I take pride in being a good tackler.”

By adding a trio of experience players in the secondary, ISU gets an infusion of depth for a team that grabbed 12 interceptions last season and ranked fourth in pass defense in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

“The three of us together can help a lot, making sure there’s depth all throughout the position room,” Tracy said. “All (the defensive backs) will make a really good secondary. This is going to be one of the best secondaries in the FCS.”


Darius Walker, LB, Sophomore

Darius Walker

Walker had five tackles and a quarterback hurry in the team’s final fall scrimmage after playing in two games a year ago. A graduate of Illinois powerhouse East St. Louis High School, the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Walker has displayed his leadership during fall camp.

“He makes sure guys around him know what they’re doing,” Tracy said. “You need that type of player on the field who knows other people’s jobs.”


Wenkers Wright, RB, Sophomore

Wenkers Wright

Wright rushed for 110 yards combined in two fall scrimmages and is likely to be part of the Redbirds’ 1-2 punch at running back with Cole Mueller, who nearly ran for 1,000 yards last season.

What word best describes his running style?

“Power,” Tracey said of 200-pound Wright. “He’s one of those backs you don’t want to meet over and over and over again in the hole. He’s going to put that shoulder down and you’re going to feel it.”

Jalen Carr, WR, Redshirt freshman

Jalen Carr

He is listed at 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, but speed is Carr’s potential game-breaking skill.

Tracy spent three seasons on the FBS level and said Carr was comparable to some of the fastest players he has faced.

“Seeing him in the slot, I know I’ve got to be ready to be on my horse,” Tracy said. “If you don’t get hands on him or if you don’t play with the right leverage, he can leave you.”

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