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For most of his career, Ole Miss senior Aaron Garbutt has been a safety, but when the new coaches came on board, they envisioned Aaron as an outside linebacker, Stinger to be exact. Their vision is paying off. Read about it inside.

Aaron Garbutt came to Ole Miss as a safety. In fact, when he was recruited, there was some thought he might be able to play cornerback as well.

In 2011, Garbutt played the Spur position, which is a hybrid LB/safety slot, and registered 51 tackles in nine starts.

But when the winds of change blew through Ole Miss football and brought with it a new coaching staff, Garbutt was headed for unknown turf.

Defensive Coodinator Dave Wommack was looking for speed and size was secondary.

Wommack surveyed the landscape and picked out Garbutt, a 200-pounder with jackhammer arms and good speed, and asked him to move to outside linebacker, Stinger to be exact.

Garbutt never flinched and now, a few days into fall camp, he's the number one Stinger on the Rebel defense.

"I had a lot to learn. It's a lot different down in the box closer to the line of scrimmage," Garbutt noted. "You have to shock linemen and get off blocks. You are not running around free, you are covered by a blocker.

"The physical part is the big deal about moving from safety to LB."

Garbutt is a healthy young man, very strong for his size, but he can't play at his weight without good technique.

"I am getting better. I am working hard every day to get off blocks, using the right technique. You have to box and contain, scrape, all the little things to help with the matchup problems you have with 300-pounders," he stated.

Aaron is now adjusted to the speed of the game thanks to his 2011 experience in the SEC, but there is more work to do.

"Things are slowing down a little bit this year as compared to last year. The speed of the game on this level is really fast after playing JUCO ball," he explained. "It's also a matter of being in better shape. Coach Jack (Paul Jackson) has us in good shape, so that has made this summer camp easier so far.


Aaron Garbutt
File Photo

"When you are in better shape, it's easier to play hard every play and that's what it takes on this level. No plays off."

Garbutt said he put in extra time in the summer trying to get stronger so he could "hold up" while mixing and mingling with the guys in the trenches.

"I'm more confident now than I was in spring," he continued. "I can sense more confidence on this whole defense. We are learning something every day and are growing as a unit every day. What we did in spring is coming back to us and knowing what youa re doing is a key to playing well."

Aaron still relies on his speed to give him an edge.

"It's important to have good movement on this level. We will play several teams who are spread teams, so being able to cover the slot receiver or tight end is critical. I think we have fast guys on our defense who can get the job done," he stated.

Garbutt smiled when asked how he liked playing in Wommack's defense.

"Like he always says, we are the cat and not the mouse," said Aaron. "It's awesome. You never know what you are going to have to do.

"You might blitz outside or cover deep thirds. You never know. You have to be able to play every position out there. We have defensive ends dropping in flats, we got everyone doing everything. When it all comes down to it, we are all going to eat out there and it's fun."

Aaron, being a senior, is trying to up his leadership role as well.

"We are going to teach these young guys how to play full speed all the time. As seniors, we are going to step up to the plate and back them up and encourage them," he closed.

Aaron Garbutt didn't have any idea he might one day end up being an SEC linebacker, but now that he is, he's making the most of it.


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