Veterans Lesley Deamer, Deon Simon and Damon Medcafe are anchors at defensive tackle, and there's a four-way battle for the starting end slots between Keland Johnson and Justin Evans on one side, and Leroy Armstrong and JeMarcus Marshall at the opposite end.
The second line of defense is also solid, despite the graduation of two-time All-America linebacker Derek Rose.
The biggest issue: an unsettled situation at safety, which contrasts with a stacked deck at cornerback, said Boone on Wednesday as the Demons hit the middle of preseason camp during two practices.
“We have a long way to go across the board. We have some core guys who we feel good about, and we have some guys we believe can come on and help us. It's halfway through camp, and we're hoping they'll step up and show us they're ready,” he said.
“That said, we're very pleased with where we're at. The kids are giving good effort. Our secondary, back in the middle, is the area where we have the most opportunity for players to step up and shine.”
The front line, expected to be the strength of the Purple Swarm defense, hasn't disappointed Boone.
“We have some pretty good hands inside up front. Deamer and Simon are really doing well, and Damon Medcafe is coming along. We have some others we're waiting on and they need to hurry,” he said.
“We have four defensive ends who are very good players and it's a battle royale between them. Justin Evans and Keland Johnson are neck-and-neck on one side, and Jamarcus Marshall and Leroy Armstrong are going at it on the other side. It's a nice situation to have,” said Boone, beginning his 10th season as a defensive coordinator, his first on Jay Thomas' new staff at NSU.
Veterans Pat Black and Tyler Roussel are the standard-bearers at linebacker, with newcomer Marion Chapman, 10th in the nation's junior college ranks last year with 106 tackles, living up to billing.
“A guy who's caught our eye is (returning letterman) WaDerrious Sellers, who missed spring but is really getting better. Marion Chapman is who we thought he was when we signed him, and he is on the move,” said Boone.
Redshirt freshman Adam Jones is the front runner to start at outside linebacker, with two veterans, Luke Turner and Calvin Morton, in contention.
The Demons' secondary is a mixed bag currently, said Boone.
“Ryan Sorrell is the leader at safety, and everybody else is fighting for a spot and nobody's taking control yet. At corner, it's the opposite. Of all the places I've coached, this place is at the top as far as quality corners, past and present,” he said.
“We have 4-5 we feel comfortable about and 2-3 more who can develop. Imoan Claiborne, Fred Thomas, Rico Albert are proven veterans who are setting a very good tone,” said Boone.
After the two-a-day session Wednesday, the Demons go once at 3:30 Thursday in full gear, then twice Friday before a 10 a.m. scrimmage Saturday in Turpin Stadium.