Positional Breakdown, Part-13: Safeties

Included is a detailed breakdown of the Mississippi State safeties based on their 2009 play and how they looked and performed during the just-completed spring practices and scrimmages.

Charles Mitchell (5'11 205) Junior

  • Scout Ranking:****
  • 2009 Stats: 64 Tkls./1.5 TFL/ 4 int.
  • Spring Game: 2 Tkls.

    Synopsis:
    Mitchell emerged as one of the leaders on the defense and one of the best safeties in SEC in 2009. He had a good 2009 but didn't have a big spring. Mitchell still held onto his starting spot but must step up if he wants to be All-SEC next year.

    Strengths:

  • Football I.Q.
  • Versatility
  • Durability
  • Run Support
  • Toughness
  • Instincts

    Weaknesses:

  • Size
  • Ball Skills
  • Closing Speed

    2010 Projection:
    72 Tkls./8 TFL/2 Sks./3 int. (Second Team All-SEC)

    I expect Mitchell to get it together and become the leader of the defense next season.


    Nickoe Whitley (6'0 205) Redshirt Freshman

  • Scout Ranking:***
  • 2009 Stats:Redshirt
  • Spring Game: 6 Tkls.

    Synopsis:
    Whitley redshirted during the 2009 season but performed well on the scout team. He came into the spring as a backup but took over as the starting cornerback after Johnthan Banks moved from safety to cornerback.

    Strengths:

  • Versatility
  • Size
  • Awareness
  • Closing Speed
  • Run Support

    Weaknesses:

  • Durability
  • Ball Skills
  • Fluidity

    2010 Projection:
    40 Tkls./4 TFL/1 Sk./2 int. (All-SEC Freshmen Team)

    Whitley should have a big year and make the All-SEC Freshman Team.


    Wade Bonner (5'9 205) Redshirt Junior

  • Scout Ranking:***
  • 2009 Stats: 20 Tkls.
  • Spring Game: 6 Tkls.

    Synopsis:
    Bonner has bounced around a lot during his career but finally settled in at safety last year. He had a solid year, becoming a valuable role player. He settled in as the third safety during the spring.

    Strengths:

  • Run Support
  • Toughness
  • Special Teams

    Weaknesses:

  • Size
  • Ball Skills
  • Athleticism

    2010 Projection:
    24 Tkls./1 TFL

    Bonner should be Whitley's and Mitchell's primary backup next season.


    Dennis Thames (5'11 185) Redshirt Freshman

  • Scout Ranking:****
  • 2009 Stats: Redshirt
  • Spring Game: 4 Tkls.

    Synopsis:
    Thames the four-star prospect out of Louisville began his career at receiver but was redshirted. He asked to be moved back to his more natural safety position after the season. He developed slowly but came on during the final week after Johnthan Banks was moved to cornerback.

    Strengths:

  • Instincts
  • Closing Speed
  • Run Support

    Weaknesses:

  • Ball Skills
  • Awareness
  • Size
  • Work Ethic

    2010 Projection:
    20 Tkls./2 TFL/1 Sks.

    Thames should become a solid special teams performer and play some on defense next season.


    Zach Smith (6'0 185) Senior

  • Scout Ranking:**
  • 2009 Stats: 26 Tkls./2.5 TFL/1 Sk.
  • Spring Game: 3 Tkls.

    Synopsis:
    Smith started the 2009 season as the starter at free safety during the 2009 season but had to sit out the second half of the season due to concussion problems. He was cleared to play again and returned for the spring. He had an average spring but still struggled in pass coverage.

    Strengths:

  • Toughness
  • Football I.Q.
  • Instincts
  • Run Support
  • Experience

    Weaknesses:

  • Fluidity
  • Athleticism
  • Footwork
  • Durability
  • Coverage Ability

    2010 Projection:
    4 Tkls.

    I don't foresee Smith playing much but he will be valuable as a mentor to Thames, Whitley, and Mitchell.


    Jeremiah Short is a columnist who covers various Mississippi State sports for GenesPage.com. He can be reached by email at moot2005@yahoo.com


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