Holsey Happy To Help Out At Two Positions

Auburn sophomore Josh Holsey talks about playing safety for the football Tigers and discusses the newcomers at the position.

Auburn, Ala.--Recruited after developing into one of the top cornerback prospects in the South, sophomore Josh Holsey is challenging for a starting job heading into his second season on the Plains, but it's not at a spot he envisioned.

Moving to safety in the spring training following Demetruce McNeal's absence because of what head coach Gus Malzahn said were personal reasons, Holsey has remained there to open preseason work with McNeal missing practice time because of an injury.

Auburn's coaches, who have praised the sophomore's knowledge of the game, are hoping that he is physical enough to get the job done at safety as a 5-11, 197-pound player. Holsey said that having to learn two positions and play both is definitely a challenge, but it's something he is prepared to take on to help out the team.

"It doesn't matter to me learning both of them," he said. "I know corner pretty good and that's where I was at the majority of the spring. I know corner like the back of my hand so I know if I have to go back I know I can do it. If they need me to play safety then that's what I would do. That is what I have been studying every day now. Safety is getting just as easy as corner was."

With junior Jermaine Whitehead looking solidly entrenched at the number one position at one of the safety spots, Holsey's move is needed if nothing else to give the Tigers depth at safety, something the sophomore player said he understands is important to a team's success.

Josh Holsey is shown during Auburn's 2013 A-Day spring football game.

Returning safeties Ryan Smith and Trent Fisher are also available to play and McNeal is expected back soon. The coaches are looking for more difference-makers in the secondary and that means giving players such as Holsey a shot to show what they can do.

In addition to the returning players at safety, Auburn also has newcomers who are getting a long look in the preseason to see how much impact they can make in 2013.

Junior college transfer Brandon King and high school signee Khari Harding are both physical players who look like linebackers, but are getting a practice time at safety for the Tigers. Both guys have experience in the secondary. Harding was an All-State safety in Oklahoma last season and King earned All-Jayhawk Conference honors in 2012 at Highland Community College in Kansas.

While the learning process is in the early stages for the newcomers to get a feel for Coach Ellis Johnson's defense, Holsey noted that they have looked promising to this point and he is anxious to see what they can do this season and in the future.

"They're good," the sophomore said. "They're learning. They don't really know as much right now, but I"m teaching them. The ones that play my position, I know I'm learning as well, but I know a little more than what they do. I'm teaching them out there. They're asking me questions and I'm telling them whenever they need help to come ask me.

"When we're in the film room I sit next to BK (King) because he plays the same thing as me," Holsey notes. "I'm helping him out and telling him the checks we're making and all that. They're coming along good. They're going to be good players."

Last season Holsey showed that a newcomer could make a positive impact in the secondary. He played in all 12 games and started half of them while finishing the season with 30 tackles and a team-leading six deflected passes.

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