Position Analysis: Safeties

Rutgers lost a staple in the secondary with the graduation of stron safety Joe Lefeged, but free safety Khaseem Greene had a strong season and is poised to break out in 2011. But what else does Rutgers' safety position look like? Check out the safety "Position Analysis" as ScarletReport.com's series continues.

Lorenzo Waters can be a devastating hitter, but will he be ready to play a significant role as a strong safety in 2011?

Khaseem Greene is physically gifted, but will the experience of starting last season translate into quicker reaction time next season?

Rutgers has been known for its safeties, from Ron Girault to Courtney Greene, and from Zaire Kitchen to Joe Lefeged, and the talent is there for the stellar play to continue.

However, outside of Khaseem Greene, the names will be very different when spring practice commences.

Greene started 12 games at free safety and finished fourth on the team with 77 tackles, had a team-leading three interceptions and tied for the team lead with four forced fumbles. He showed his athleticism and quickness often, but he was also a half-step late on helping over the top too often as well. Greene can be a punishing hitter, but refining his tackling skills are on the offseason agenda.

But the red-shirt junior-to-be is the given among Rutgers' safeties, and the rest will be battling for playing time.

The most intriguing up-and-comer is Waters, a 6-foot, 195-pounder from DeMatha High (Hyattsville, Md.) who red-shirted last season. Waters breaks on the ball quickly and even while running with the scout team, developed a reputation as a physical player who likes to hit.

Spending a year as an understudy to Lefeged, who is now readying for the NFL draft, should serve him well in his quest to take over the strong safety position.

However, competition will come for playing time from a myriad of places.

Junior-to-be Duron Harmon gained valuable experience in nickel and dime packages, and Wayne Warren, who will be a fourth-year junior, received plenty of looks in the fall and could be ready to make a move on the depth chart, if he stays there. When the linebacker depth became an issue late in the season, he appeared in one game as a linebacker.

Patrick Kivlehan was expected to contend for playing time in 2010, but was passed by. However, seniors have a way of jumping into mixes and earning playing time, and he has experience since he played a role in 2009.

Also, this could be Darrell Givens' chance to make a move now that he had a year at safety to learn the position after making the move from cornerback. After a slow start to the transition, Givens came on late in the season and showed glimpses he may be ready to contribute.

The coaching staff usually gives defensive backs an opportunity at cornerback before being moved to safety, and Rashad Knight could factor into the equation given he played safety in high school.

Knight spent the 2010 season red-shirting as a cornerback, but could move to safety if the coaching staff deems that as the best move for his future.

Finally, Rutgers commit Charles Davis of Neptune (N.J.) High is coming in as a defensive back, and could easily find himself at safety. At 6-foot, 190 pounds, Davis has the size, speed and aggressiveness to play safety.

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