TRAY MATTHEWS (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Auburn Spring Football Preview: Safeties

Safeties are featured in a continuation of our spring training football preview reports.

Tray Matthews (above) has 20 starts for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn heads into spring football practice with a new secondary coach and four safeties who have significant playing experience.

Greg Brown, who takes over for Wesley McGriff, inherits three players with significant starting experience. The group includes seniors Tray MatthewsStephen Roberts and Nick Ruffin.

Matthews led the Tigers in tackles last season with 43 solo stops and 33 assist while playing for McGriff, who took a job as defensive coordinator at Ole Miss.

Matthews, a starter at Georgia in 2013, intercepted one pass, forced a fumble and deflected three passes while starting all 13 games last season.

Roberts started eight games and played in four others last season. He finished the 2016 schedule with 33 solo tackles and 24 assists to rank fifth on the team.

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Stephen Roberts has 12 career starts.

Roberts, who has started a dozen games for the Tigers, intercepted two passes last season, deflected two balls and averaged 16.7 yards on six punt returns.

Nick Ruffin started three games and played in eight others last year in a season in which he was slowed by injuries. He finished 11th on the team in tackles with 22 solos and 10 assists. He deflected three passes.

Markell Boston returns as a junior for 2017 after playing in all 13 games last season and making six solo tackles.

Jayvaughn Myers, who redshirted last year as a freshman, is a possibility at safety or cornerback.

Jamel Dean, who missed his redshirt freshman season due to an injury, is a big cornerback who Brown could give a look at safety.

In the secondary the Tigers lose Rudy Ford, a former starting safety who played the nickel position along with 2016 true freshman Daniel Thomas, a player who can line up at nickel or safety.

The Tigers signed a pair of safeties in the 2017 class, Jordyn Peters and Carlito Gonzalez. Both are expected to join the team in late spring or early summer after they graduate from high school.

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