Safety Spot Settles

Last season, everyone just knew that Omar Brown, Donald Brown, or DJ Hunter would start at the safety positions, with Evan McKelvey, Browns younger brother backing them up.

However, once game day arrived, Brown was in fact starting, however, he was starting alongside former starting linebacker Devin Arrington. The backups were former linebacker Zach Dunston and walk on Derek Mitchell. Depth was non existent.

Hunter had been injured. Donald Brown was kicked off the team for a violation of team rules. McKelvey hadn't quite grasped the schemes at the FBS level yet.

Brown had a very good year, and has since parlayed that into a successful run at a roster spot for the Baltimore Ravens. Arrington had a solid year but was a step slow for the position in pass happy Conference USA. Shortly after the season was over, Holliday made it clear that Arrington would be moved back to his familiar outside linebacker position. Holliday was excited because now, Arrington would have less space to cover, but was coming off a year where he really had to step up his game and learn to cover more space, this could only be a good thing for the defense.

In addition to Arrington moving, Hunter was now healthy. In spring camp, former safety Donald Brown was allowed back into the program. The safety position was set again. Hunter and Brown would man the spot for the next two years before Brown departed due to graduation. Brown was coming off an excellent sophomore season. By the time camp was over, Brown had messed up again and had been dismissed, Hunter was dinged up a little bit again, and Dunston and Mitchell were back into the mix.

Spring camp ended with Hunter and Dunston being what everyone expected would be the starting safeties. However, McKelvey, and former wide receiver Raheem Waiters were making a strong push.

Fall camp began last week. Hunter was still expected to be the safety, but both Waiters and McKelvey had been moved to linebacker.

The reasons? Dominick LeGrande and Okechukwu Okoroha. LeGrande and Okoroha were transfers from ACC school, Boston College. They came in and almost immediately took over the safety position moving Hunter to the nickel position. Both players are taller, and have played together before which makes starting them both in a new scheme, seemingly a smart move.

Andre Scott, a true freshman recruit, has also entered the mix. Scott also has the size, reminding some of the great Rogers Beckett of the late 90's teams who went on to a solid NFL career with multiple teams. Scott, though, should be red shirted, but as you can see, anything is possible at the safety position.

In conclusion, it appears that the safety spot has been taken care of. LeGrande and Okoroha will be starting, with Hunter playing nickel. One would expect that Hunter would move over to Safety if something happened to a starter, and would be two on the depth chart. The second safety on the depth chart would be Dunston.

Well, not so fast. Dunston has left the team. The never ending moves at safety continue. With Dunston gone, Scott has moved back up again, along with that former redshirt Derek Mitchell. Mitchell is a good hardnosed player who is always making plays on the football field. He is also one of the teams best special teams players and is the third team long snapper behind Matt Cincotta and James Power.

Corie Wilson has been moved from defensive back to safety as well.

So, again, to put what is hopefully a final nail in the safety depth chart. We have the following. LeGrande and Okoroha will start. Hunter and Mitchell will be second on the depth chart, and Scott should be in the wings.

I almost forgot the potential wild card in the whole scenario. Shawn Samuels. Samuels is a one time Arkansas then UAB commit. Samuels wears number 35, and has the potential over the next two weeks to work his way well into the mix. It will most likely be next to impossible to break into the starting lineup, but the non qualifier should move up to second team on the depth chart.

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates.

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