Spring Football Preview: Safeties

New assistant coach Dan Hammerschmidt was listed as the cornerbacks coach in our preview story earlier this week. The first time we met coach "Hammer" he was watching offseason workouts and defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer was pointing out the cornerbacks. But Mike Gundy has now designated his new coaches and Hammerschmidt has the safeties and Tim Duffie moves over to take the cornerbacks.

"Hammer" appeared happy with the corners but he won't be disappointed with the safeties as there is plenty of talent there as well. Jordan Sterns leads a strong group into the spring.

As we will at each position in our previews, we will label returning starters, contenders, and those players waiting to be discovered.

Returning Starters
13 Jordan Sterns, FS, Jr., 6-1, 205
31 Tre Flowers, SS, So., 6-3, 190

Contenders
16 Deric Robertson, FS, Jr., 6-2, 200
4 Dylan Harding, FS, So., 6-2, 195
5 Jerel Morrow, SS, So., 6-0, 185

Waiting to be Discovered
11 Tre Roberts, FS/SS, RS-Fr., 6-2, 205
26 Matthew Newsome, SS, RS-Fr., 5-11, 170

The numbers are down a little for the spring but will be buoyed in the summer and fall with the arrival of a big class of safeties in the recruiting class, including Bryce Balous, who might play either safety or corner; Za'Carrius Green, who could play safety or star linebacker; Kevin Henry, and Kenneth McGruder.

In the meantime, while the numbers may not be huge in quantity, the quality is high with Jordan Sterns having developed into one of the best defensive players on the team last season, while starting every game from Florida State to the Cactus Bowl. Tre Flowers, at the strong safety, started six games during the season. Sterns led the team in tackles with 103, and 72 of those were unassisted. Tre Flowers added 56 total tackles, and 47 of those were unassisted.

The key is that both players became much better at reading offenses, quarterbacks, and receivers. They improved a lot in their assignments both in run support and pass coverage. That is huge as safeties wind up being communicators on the field, and we all know communication coming from players that don't know what they are talking about doesn't help.

Jerel Morrow improved a lot over the season. Besides getting quality reps at safety, he played a lot of special teams. As did Deric Robertson and freshman Dylan Harding. Tre Roberts is a tremendous athlete who redshirted as he was making the transition to safety.

The key for Hammerschmidt in coaching this group in the spring will be to get them squared away on assignments as there will be a lot of teaching going on in the summer and into fall camp with the new arrivals. The more teachers there are, the more these veteran players can answer questions, the quicker everybody is ready for the start of the season at Central Michigan and for the young players the need to keep progressing and for some to be ready to be trusted by the conference opener at Texas.


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