Thorpe Adapting to New Role On Defense

Auburn senior Neiko Thorpe talks about making the move to safety.

Auburn, Ala.--Having to replace a boatload of experienced players on the defensive side of the football, throw in the fact that Auburn's most seasoned returning player will be at a new position next fall, and you have plenty of teaching going on during spring practice.

Playing in 38 games with 27 starts in his first three seasons, all at cornerback, Neiko Thorpe has been a productive player with 177 tackles and four interceptions, but Auburn's coaching staff is looking for more out of him as a senior. With his 6-2 height and ability to cover a lot of ground with his speed, Thorpe looks to be a better fit at safety and he said so far so good as he tries to learn the position.

"I think spring is going good," Thorpe said. "Me personally I would say things could be going better, but that's just me making mistakes. Every day I come out trying to get better. So far it's going good.

"It's just about getting in the film room more," he added. "It's kind of a requirement now. I'm spending a lot more time in the film room watching things."

Being experienced in the defense, Thorpe definitely knows all about the speed of the game. He also has the ability to cover in space, something that should help his game as it translates to the safety position.

"I think it helps a lot," Thorpe said. "I like to look at it as more reps that I have. I can concentrate on other things like working on stopping the run."

One thing that should help Thorpe be more physical in the secondary is added weight. No longer the scrawny defensive back, he said he's getting used to carrying more mass and he believes it will help him.

"I have gained some weight and I'm still gaining weight as we speak," Thorpe said. "I'm up to 193 at the moment. I never thought I would get that big. I always wanted to be that big corner, but it's a must now."

Although he has never played safety at Auburn he has had the luxury of watching guys like Zac Etheridge and Aairon Savage play the position. Seeing how they work on and off the field is something he said he wants to take to his role on defense.

"I can kind of relate to them more now that I see what they were doing," Thorpe said. "I can see how they were such leaders and had an impact on the team because of all their knowledge. I'm just trying to get where they were at."

Neiko Thorpe will be Auburn's most experience player in the secondary this season.

Working at safety along with Demetruce McNeal with Ikeem Means and Drew Cole also in the rotation, Thorpe said his goal for spring practice and the coming summer is just to become more comfortable so when the season kicks off he can turn it loose.

"I'm just trying to get my position down so that when the season comes I'm playing and not thinking."

Ted Roof, Auburn's defensive coordinator, said he likes what he is seeing. "I think this is going to be a good move for Neiko and for the team," the coach said.

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