After registering 60 tackles, an interception, and 12 pass break ups as a junior at cornerback, Robert Golden has been moved back to safety for his final season for Arizona. The position change came as a surprise to Golden, but he says he is okay with making the switch.
"I wanted to play corner," Golden said. "I came into the spring playing corner and I thought I was going to be there. When they moved me back to safety I was kind of happy about it. Coach Stoops said he wanted to try me at safety again, so that's always good."
With the injury to Adam Hall, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound soon-to-be senior is making the move back to the position where he first broke onto the field for the Wildcats.
As a sophomore, Golden put up 41 tackles and two interceptions as a safety, and after a year as a corner, he's happy to be back and is working hard to make the most of his opportunity.
"I feel pretty good being back," Golden said. "At first I was kind of skeptical about moving back to the safety position, but once I realized I had to play it I became comfortable with it. I've been studying a lot with coach Walters and I love the position now.
"I feel like I can be the best at it if I work at it, and that's what I've been coming to do out here every day at practice."
After playing both corner and safety, Golden knows exactly what he needs to add to his game in order to be an effective safety.
"For safety, you have to be more alert," Golden said. "You have to be the vocal guy on the defense, making the checks and being there to fill run gaps and cover people as well. That's the difference, being able to cover and fill gaps."
The vocal leadership responsibilities that come along with playing the safety position are something that Golden has experience with handling, and is a role he believes he will continue to thrive in.
"I like being the vocal leader for the defense," Golden said. "I like amping guys up and challenging guys to be better and do better. That's always been my thing. I did that in high school and I feel like I can take on that role here."
While Golden was developing those leadership skills at Fresno (Ca.) Edison High School, he was also a teammate of All-Pac-10 defensive backs T.J. McDonald of USC and Cliff Harris of Oregon. And although Golden has yet to accomplish what his former teammates have, he believes that he'll finally break through as a senior and receive similar individual accolades.
"We always keep in contact, and I congratulate them on their great successes," Golden said. "We always just wanted to work hard in college and be the best.
"I feel like this is my year. I feel like I can go out there and be All-Pac-10 and an All-American. That's what I want to do and that's what I'm going to challenge myself to do."
But for now, Golden is working on improving with a secondary that in his mind was an underachieving unit a season ago.
"Last year we had a lot of returning guys too, and we didn't go out the way we wanted to," Golden said. "We're challenging ourselves this season to be the best secondary out there, and the only way we can do that is work hard. We said we're not going to talk about it, we're just going to be about it."
Golden comfortable at safety
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