DevilsDigest: Coach, could you please give us your assessment of each of the five safeties signed in the 2002 class?
Dan Fidler: Andre Bailey – "He has great size, and he's a great athlete. On the Basketball court, he's just tremendous. He's untapped potential Football wise. He was very productive player in high school, but he was hurt a lot. I think his better Football days are still ahead of him, and he's a great great prospect."
Matt Fawley – "Probably a throw back player, when you see him on film. He's very though and makes lots of plays, hits, and tackles. Comes from a good Football program in Texas. He was very well coached. He'll be a great addition to us because of how tough and physical he is."
Brett Hudson – "Big kid who can run well. He has good ball skills. He played wide receiver in high school, and in his first year at Community College. Played a lot of corner because of his injuries. A very good athlete. The biggest adjustment for him will be playing safety in our scheme, which will require him to be more physical."
Robert James – "A very exciting player. Plays with a great motor, and is very explosive. At Maryvale he's doing already all the things we'll ask him to do here at ASU, in terms of blitzing, playing in the box, playing man and zone. In that sense, out of all the high school kids we'll bring in, he'll have the most experience because he's been doing these things already."
J.W. Lucas – "We had him in camp, he's extremely competitive. Played quarterback in high school, and made a lot of plays throwing and running. Very good athlete, and a big kid. The good thing about having a kid in camp is that you can time him. He timed very fast. His biggest upside is his competitiveness, and that's probably the thing we liked about him the most."
DD: Out of the five safeties, which ones will play at free safety and which ones will be at the outside (strong) safety spot?
DF: "The two guys that have the best chance of playing free safety are Bailey and Fawley. The other guys will play outside safety. I think Fawley may be able to go between free and outside safety."
DD: All of last year we've been hearing about safety Joey Smith, and how he excelled on the scout team. How will he fit into the mix this season?
DF: "Joey Smith will play outside. He has a lot of natural ability. He's fast and strong. The thing about him is that he never played safety in high school. The key thing for him is, can he play recklessly with some assignments attached to it. On the scout team you're just reading off the card. You have the freedom to run without knowing exactly what you're doing (smile). So we'll see how quick he'll learn the scheme of the defense."
DD: When you're recruiting for this position, does it make it easier or harder to recruit for a scheme that calls for three safeties?
DF: "It makes it easier to recruit safeties, because there are three of them on our base defense. So more of them will play. In a two-safety scheme, you're basically recruiting the same type of player. In our scheme, you are recruiting for free safety and outside safety, which are different. There are more qualities that you can look for recruiting safeties in our defense. It's a fun scheme for safeties to play in, and the players we recruit can see that on film."
DD: This position returns three players who have considerable experience from last year: Jason Shivers. Al Williams, and Riccardo Stewart. Therefore, do you expect to see noticeable improvement from last season?
DF: "I definitely think we'll be better. The players will know the scheme better, their assignments and roles. They'll know me better, and I'll know them better. The three players you mentioned were our top three tacklers on the team. The key thing is that you want to develop depth, so there's competition. That's why we brought in so many safeties. We're trying to get more athletic, faster, and taller. Once all the players come in, we'll see if we filled those needs. For now, we're just looking for competition. We want guys pushing each other, so we need more than three guys that can play. All our safeties play on special teams, and at Boise State our leading tacklers were always safeties. So when you play such a physical position like this, you need to have good depth."
DD: Would it be fair to assume that those three returning players will run with the first team in the upcoming spring practice?
DF: "Not necessarily. When guys feel that they have a chance to compete they feel better about themselves. I'm not going in with any pre-conceived notions. We're just going to open it up in the spring, and let guys compete for their positions. It's gonna be wide open."
Post Signing Day Comments – Safeties
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