SAM SAFETYStarter: Hayden Pierce Sr.
Back up: Jr.
Hayden Pierce (42 tackles, 2 passes defensed) benefited from the coaching change. His inability to stay healthy and some coverage mistakes had seemed to put him in Rich Ellerson's dog house. He played well this spring and his play was praised by the new staff. Pierce (6-4, 196) posted four tackles and broke up a pass for the Gold team this spring. Last year he started the first two games at boundary cornerback and did not play well. He was in a reserve role the next two weeks before replacing the injured Bacon at free safety. Pierce did not have a very productive season. Pierce wasn't as physical and active in run support as he needed to be each week. He started the first nine games of his career as a plebe before being injured in 2011 against Air Force. Pierce suffered through an injury-riddled sophomore campaign as he appeared in just six games. I'm glad he received a second chance. I thought he was a better player than last year’s starter Shaquille Tolbert at SAM safety. I always liked his ability from when I first saw him play at USMAPS. Pierce is a very alert player and a sure open field tackler. He has a smooth stride that gives him excellent range and has enough speed to cover most receivers.
Junior Luke Proulx (5-10, 190) is a strong player with fairly good speed. He was recruited as a running back but was moved to safety last spring. He played on the JV team last year. He didn't play on defense in high school had to learn the position. Proulx was willing to hit and compete this spring. He should become more instinctive and comfortable with practice repetitions after missing time this spring. He had a very prolific high school career with an excellent football program in Washington. During his junior and senior seasons Proulx ran over 3,200 yards and scored 49 touchdowns. Luke is a good athlete and has the athletic ability to help here if he can successfully make the transition. Sophomore Gervon Simon was running ahead of Proulx at SAM safety until he injured his knee.