While Hodgkiss has graduated, Fowler remains with the team and looks to be the guy to beat out at the free safety position come spring practices. Last season Fowler was very effective in completing assignments while providing consistent play from a position which demands consistency.
We haven't received conformation at this time whether David Tafuna will be able to practice come spring. It is expected that Tafuna will be able to play in 2008, and with his experience and abilities he should warrant a spot on top of the safety rotation.
Tafuna has played both free safety and strong safety over the post two years, but look for him to compete and play at the strong safety position in 2008.
Rich in Potential
All eyes will be on super walk-on Andrew Rich as spring practices are set to commence. Rich comes in with the sort of hype rarely granted to a walk-on, and justifiably so. He spurned scholarship offers from several Division I programs to walk on at BYU, earning him a lot of love and respect from BYU fans.
Word is that Rich has not done anything to suggest that the hype wasn't warranted during offseason workouts. He has worked out well and should be competing very hard for the strong safety spot come next Monday, as spring practices will start on that day.
Chris Warner has recovered from his leg injury and is working out very well with his teammates so far in the offseason.
Warner has always been a solid practice player and will be working hard to pick up where he left off this spring. Those who have observed Warner in the offseason indicate that he'll be a prime option to break the two-deep or start this coming season.
The most intriguing option at safety this spring might be Jordan Pendleton. Pendleton has the body of a linebacker, but will work hard to prove that he can become a unique type of strong safety in the Cougars' 3-4 defensive system.
Another player who has been in the program for a while and will be looking to make some noise this spring is Aaron Attig. Attig has been buried on the depth chart so far in his career, but made some good strides during last season.
Word is that Cougar coaches plan to take two players that practiced at cornerback last season and switch them to the safety position. Look for these two players to be Gary Nagy and Scott Johnson. It was thought that Brandon Bradley would be switched to safety, but that talk has died down recently.
It's important to keep in mind that it is spring practice, not fall practice, which will allow for the coaches to try out players at a number of positions. Spring practice is generally for player development, and we look for Cougar coaches to try out several CBs at the safety positions this spring.
Scott Johnson is a likely candidate to play safety in my mind due to his knowledge of the overall coverage system. Johnson has quietly become a very solid practice performer from the cornerback position and stood out on special teams play this past year.
Gary Nagy is also a likely candidate due to his size and strength. Nagy cut his teeth at CB with the practice squad last season and certainly appears to be a player who could play well at either corner or safety.
Help in the Fall
A couple of true freshmen that may make some noise this fall include Shiloah Te'o and Daniel Sorensen. Both players come in with high credentials, but will have a steep learning curve to climb in order to contribute this coming season.
The overall talent and lack of collective experience should make for some interesting battles this spring, particularly for the open strong safety position. We'll be watching and taking note closely regarding any development at both safety positions this spring.