At Monday's practice open to the media, the two safety slots looked a little thin - only starters Jamarca Sanford, at strong safety and Free Safety Kendrick Lewis, backed by freshmen Colby Arceneaux, George Helow and Fon Ingram were available for work.
But Defensive Backs Coach Chris Rippon said those positioons are not as thin as it appeared.
"Jamison Hughes and Johnny Brown were not out there," said Rippon. "We had those guys for a few days and I think they are going to be real players here."
Rippon has high expectations for Sanford and Lewis and high hopes for the rest.
"We all know what Jamarca is capable of. He's our leader. He's our guy back there," Rip stated. "Kendrick is doing a nice job learning the position. He's come a long way since spring. He had a very productive summer. He competed hard in everything, he was one of the standards of the summer. He worked hard in the weight room, in the classroom and in offseason workouts and you can tell it this fall camp."
The freshmen are everything Rippon was hoping for, based on a first look.
"Jamison is really handling things well. You expect him to have a little better knowledge because he's a coaches' son, but you also have to remember he's a young kid. I see a lot of potential in him," Chris noted. "Johnny Brown is the athlete we thought he would be, and we evaluated him as a superb athlete. He's shown me that.
"Colby has been a very good surprise. He makes plays. He has a knack. Fon is a guy who needs work, but you can tell the athletic ability is there. He's just got to grown into the position, physically and mentally. George is a kid who will stick his nose in there and do the job as well."
Brown got a lot of kudos from Ed Orgeron early on. Rippon was asked why? The simple answer is instinct.
"Johnny has an intangible quality of vision. He sees things as they develop and can respond quickly," Rippon noted. "He's not a by-rote guy. This kid has the ability to say 'here are my perameters of what I'm supposed to do, here comes the play, go make the play.' That's a great attribute to have."
What progress has Rippon seen from Sanford, the "old head" of the group?
"Jamarca is more patient, smarter and more of a leader now. He's accepting his role as the leader and doing everything we have asked of him. I'm very pleased with where Jamarca is because he's grown up, but he still plays the game with some abandon and with fire," Rippon closed.
Safety update -
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