Safety or corner for Vasher in '02?

Where will electrifying junior-to-be <B>Nathan Vasher</B> line up in '02? Strong safety, the position where he started all 13 games in '01? Or, with the graduation of shutdown corner <B>Quentin Jammer</B>, will he slide to the outside and the corner position? <B>Carl Reese</B> has the answer.

But with a caveat. He knows what he'd like to do and plans to do -- keep Vasher at strong safety -- but that plan will depend on the ability of at least one of the Horns' young corners to step up this spring.

During UT's Holiday Bowl practice, IT asked the defensive coordinator about the prospects in the defensive backfield next season with the loss of both Jammer and starting FS Ahmad Brooks.

"I think the key to next year's football team is to develop some of those young guys in the secondary," Reese said. "We've got enough numbers, it's just a matter of them showing us what they can do."

The Horns' entire DB class from last February redshirted this fall and because of that, their fall scrimmage work largely consisted of scout team action, but Reese described bowl preparations as a spring practice preview because of the large numbers of youngsters getting reps.

Any standouts during Holiday Bowl work?

"They all look about the same to me," the DC said in December. "You see (this guy) make a play and then you see this guy make a play, so I think in the end we're going to be fine there."

"We would like to go on into it (and) keep Vasher at safety because of his training there," Reese continued. "You don't want to lose a year of training and the thing about Vasher is, against teams that give you three wides and four wides -- the Oklahoma and Tech attacks -- he is (a third corner). You're third corner allows you to stay in a base defense. You don't have to send in a nickel back and we would like that flexibility and I thought that helped us play good defense this year. We could leave the 4-3 in there when (opponents) went to three wides. Vasher lines up and takes a route away so if we can develop a corner this spring and leave (Vasher) at safety, we'd be well on our way because we've always counted Doc (Dakarai Pearson) as a starter. He started in the nickel package but he'll be a good (free) safety because we played a lot of football a year ago with him at safety."

Based on the coach's comments, the Texas spring secondary should consist of Rod Babers at right corner, Vasher backed up by Phillip Geiggar at strong safety and Pearson at free safety.

Redshirt freshmen Cedric Griffin and Michael Huff, true freshman Aaron Ross (who participated in the first couple of weeks of two-a-days last August before being sidelined because of NCAA Clearinghouse issues) and junior Monti Collier will vie for the starting spot vacated by Jammer. Griffin reportedly had a great fall, while Huff (according to Reese near the end of two-a-days) looked to be the most likely to strip the redshirt and play in '01 (he did not, of course). Ross also impressed with his cover ability during his time in Austin last August, so the battle will largely be between all three athletic and talented youngsters.

Redshirt freshmen Kendal Briles and Rufus Harris, who both got looks at free safety during two-a-days, will contend for the back-up safety spots.


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