Army Spring Depth Chart Review: Free Safety

Army was the first in the FBS to complete spring drills. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler will review each Black Knight position to project a starter, a backup and a player to watch. Today he'll discuss the free safety position.

FREE SAFETY
Starter: Geoffrey Bacon #6 Jr.
Back up: Stephen Ricciardi #22 Jr.
Third String: Reggie Nesbit #25 Sr.


The most interesting development on defense this spring was junior Geoffrey Bacon moving from Mike linebacker to free safety. It was an interesting move and Bacon played well this spring at free safety. He has the speed and range to excel at the position. Last year Bacon (136 tackles, 1 interception, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble) had impressive statistics but was inconsistent. He struggled at times with his tackling, angles and finishing plays at linebacker. If Bacon's tackling was more consistent he could have led the nation in tackles. Moving him in space allows him to see the field better and make more plays. Bacon is an impact player even with his occasionally uneven play. Bacon hustles, chases and will make plays. Geoff is the Black Knights most athletic defender regardless of position. He made a number of impressive plays this spring. In one scrimmage he demonstrated his speed by breaking up a deep pass attempt from A.J. Schurr to Chevaughn Lawrence. Bacon nailed Lawrence just as the ball arrived and sent him flying to break up the pass. He was a wide receiver in high school and he has good hands.

Junior Stephen Ricciardi is a former direct admit who earned the backup free safety spot this spring. Ricciardi played well before he was hurt late during spring practice. The injury caused him to miss the Black and Gold spring game. Stephen is a 6-0, 196 pound local product from nearby Harrison, N.Y. He appeared in eight games on special teams last season and recorded a tackle. Riccardi has some ability and runs fairly well. He's a better athlete than I originally thought and is a physical player. Ricciardi will hustle and hits anything that moves. He wants to be in the middle of the action and plays like it.

Reggie Nesbit (6-2, 213) is another former Mike linebacker castoff that has found a role at free safety. Nesbit played in eleven games last year on special teams. He is a senior who was originally tried at Mike linebacker in 2011. Co-defensive coordinator Chris Smeland moved him to safety because he felt Reggie was a better player in space than playing in the box. He serves currently as a utility player who knows his role and understands what's expected of him if called upon. He is a good athlete who never developed despite having above average physical tools.

Alex Waugh (6-0,180) is a direct admit sophomore those father, Bill, attended West Point. Waugh played safety in high school and on the JV team last year. Waugh is a big effort player who is a willing hitter. He's a limited athlete who lacks the ideal speed and range for a free safety in the double eagle flex. Last year's starter Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires was listed on the depth chart under free safety. If Brandon can get back on track academically he'll probably play Mike Linebacker as we discussed in a previous segment.

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