Position Probe: Safety

An in-depth take, position by position, as the Illini transition from spring drills to summer workouts.

Here's where I'm not so sure. Or, better put, where I'm not at ease.

The staff felt good enough about the situation to move Earnest Thomas — a two-year starter — to Star. Or maybe the coaches didn't feel good enough about Star or perhaps even Thomas at safety.

See, I already went down Negative Lane. There's something about the safety position that does that to me. It's been a revolving door at safety since Beckman took over. Thomas, Supo Sanni, Patrick Nixon-Youman, Steve Hull and Tommy Davis spent time taking turns in Year One. Injuries and whatever blitzed the unit. Then, Thomas and Taylor Barton began 2013. Barton lost his job to Zane Petty and Thomas is now no longer there.

Now we're looking at Barton and Petty for 2014. Behind them, it's Jevaris Little and Clayton Fejedelem.

Hey, props to Fejedelem. I'm all for former walk-ons showing out and playing their way into the mix. That's good stuff. It's just that it's not always the most assuring thing to see that far up the depth chart.

Like I said, I'm not so sure about this. It doesn't help when Beckman says a corner like Eaton Spence, a solid starter there for sure, could potentially move to safety. I know there's depth at corner, but does mean the safety spot isn't in good shape? Would moving Spence, who doesn't have any playing experience at safety, really be a better option than any of the others listed. Maybe so, but if so… I don't feel good about the state of safety.

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