Bellamy's Move to Safety Looks Like a Hit

Illinois lost its top three safeties to graduation, and the Missouri Tigers hope to exploit their replacements Saturday. The Illini may not be as experienced in the middle as last year, but they have more speed and athleticism. Free safety Travon Bellamy is eager for the challenge.

"I'm very excited, man. They throw the ball most of the game. That's the type of game us dbs like to play, pitch and catch. We want to go out there, play our game, and we want them to test us so we can make them pay."

Bellamy played significant minutes at nickel back his freshman year, and he returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown. Surgeries on both shoulders forced him to miss last season, but he is healthy now.

"I get to hit, so I'm excited about that. My shoulder is 100%, so I'm ready to fly around."

Head coach Ron Zook thinks highly of Bellamy.

"Travon can run, he's smart, he's got hips, he's a guy that can play man-to-man on the wide receivers, he helps you with your blitz package, he's tough, all the things we look for. In three years (of high school) I think he had 33 interceptions, so he knows how to go get the football. He's got a knack to do that, a God-given ability."

The 203 pounder from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, is versatile enough to play cornerback or safety. At this time, he is focusing on safety, but he still replaces the SAM linebacker when the Illini go to a nickel package.

"When we go nickel, I'm nickel and Nate (Bussey), Donsay (Hardeman) and Bo (Flowers) are the safeties. When we go one base, I move back to safety."

The switching around has slowed Bellamy's progress to some degree, but Coach Zook believes Travon has made rapid progress recently.

"I think with Travon this past week and a half, the light came on. He was a little different playing corner and playing nickel, and now he's had lights come on."

Bellamy agrees. "Yeah, I feel that's true. I just want to come out here every day as a new approach and have a better attitude every day. I want to make plays and get ready for Saturday. It's show time, you know."

The redshirt sophomore is impressed with the increased talent level on the team since his freshman year.

"I definitely notice a difference from my freshman year. We have more team speed, and by far we're more athletic. So I just can't wait to see how we play this season. But right now, we've just got to come out and get better."

Going against the Illini receivers daily in practice has prepared him well for the season.

"They create problems. As you can see, we have more receivers than last year. We got a lot faster. They make us better, and we make them better. Coach Zook and his staff are doing a great job going out and recruiting the best of the best, bringing them in and helping us win."

Bellamy knows Missouri is a tough opponent with a wide-open spread offense. But he is certainly not intimidated by the Tigers.

"With the offense we've been running, we're pretty much used to it. We've been breaking down film as a team and looking for weaknesses we can exploit. We want to go out and attack."

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