The Players: 13 Charleston Girley (5-11, 199 RSr.), 27 Money Hunter (6-1, 210 Jr.), 10 Justin Clifton (6-0, 207 Fr.) 43 Raziel Velgis (5-11, 218 Sr.).
The Breakdown: 1. Charleston Girley or Justin Clifton.
The Numbers: The Nickel (formerly the Wolf) position as the hybrid defensive back-linebacker saw some turnover as Frankie Jackson graduated, taking his 33 tackles with him. Enter Money Hunter who slides down from safety after finishing fifth on the 2014 squad with 65 tackles and grabbing 2 interceptions. He joins incumbent starter Charleston Girley who had surgery after four games last year, only to return for the GoDaddy Bowl against Toledo. Girley finished the campaign with 21 tackles.
The Analysis: Money Hunter will possibly see time at safety and at the nickel position. Hunter has always been a big safety, so the move down to the box, where he attacks the run well, wasn’t shocking. He came up with a big interception in the game against Tennessee last year, as well as a 94-yard return for a touchdown in the GoDaddy Bowl against Toledo.
Girley has been a consistent player the last two years in the hybrid spot, sharing time with Frankie Jackson in 2013 and was the starter in 2014 before injuring his wrist, though he did come up with the game saving pass break up against Utah State in overtime last season.
Pushing for time and possibly a starting role is true freshman Justin Clifton. Clifton is a hard hitter who can run and just seems to have a knack for making plays. He showed up big in the first scrimmage of the fall and it will be hard to keep his talent off the field, especially in special teams.
Raziel Velgis (5’10 204 Sr) is a walk on who transferred from Harding University and has seen time on special teams in the past.
This group has athleticism, can run, and more importantly, seem healthy for the first time in a long time as Hunter played through a shoulder injury last year that affected his range of motion and Girley had his aforementioned wrist injury. Adding an athletic, explosive player like Clifton to the mix should do nothing but push the nickel position forward in the 2015 season.
Position Analysis: Nickels
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