As the Cardinals entered fall camp, the safety position was a clear area of concern for the coaching staff. With both starters from a season ago now in the NFL, experience among the depth chart was in short supply.
For the University of Louisville to have another strong safety combo this fall, redshirt sophomore Gerod Holliman will need to be the player most expected when he inked with the Cardinals as a four-star prospect. The Miami, Fla., product would need to help replace the hard-hitting and heady play that was a staple in 2013.
For a guy that typically let's his play do the talking, becoming a leader a vocal leader is a bit of new role. However, while he remains quiet away from the game, he is grasping the role and letting both his play, and voice, be heard during fall camp.
“Holliman is a guy that you look at where he is today relative to the spring, he's very much improved,” U of L defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “He's come back ready to be a player in this defense.”
Nicknamed 'Hot Rod' in the 9th grade while playing basketball, the 6-foot, 205-pound safety made a number of plays during the open practices, including a few interceptions.
“I feel like I'm good in coverage and working on staying low in my technique, my stance, things like that,” he said, adding that staying in proper form late in a game is where he's focused on improving the most. “Staying low when I get tired and communicating with the other guys.
“I'm more of a quiet guy, so I just have to learn how to talk to my teammates.”
Holliman played in 11 games last season, starting 2, and his experience and communication will be key. Two others also working with the first team, junior college transfer James Sample and converted corner Terell Floyd, both lean on him for assistance while working on schemes in practice and in the film study.
“Gerod, he's one of the smarter players,” said Floyd, a senior. “He knows the position better, so he helps out with that. He's come a long way since when he first got here.”
With less than two weeks until U of L welcomes Miami to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium for the season-opener, Holliman believes that the communication and progression remain positive.
“We're looking real good,” he said. “Everybody is communicating real well and we're getting the job done, as of right now.”