Playing time outlook: safety
Safety rotation pattern: With last season's starting FS Ahmad Brooks lost to graduation and former starting SS Nathan Vasher moved to corner, UT's safety spots will be occupied largely by new faces, although the return of one veteran from a spring academic hiatus bolsters the experience level and changes the PT outlook substantially. Dakarai Pearson, a strong contributor and 10-game starter at FS as a redshirt freshman in '00 before the '01 emergence of Brooks at the position, missed spring but will report with the vets on Aug. 8 and should retake the starting role occupied during spring by redshirt freshmen Kendal Briles and Rufus Harris. Although Briles and Harris both showed flashes of brilliance, neither looked prepared to start in the fall and play at a championship level. The experienced Pearson should see the majority of the game-on-the-line snaps at free safety, with Briles and Harris getting spot duty as they learn the intricacies of the position. One classmate of Briles and Harris demonstrated in spring the ability to play at a very high level. Cedric Griffin earned the strong safety start -- of late the path to playing time for young corners -- while Michael Huff also proved capable of playing at a relatively high level. Both Griffin and Huff fit the mold Duane Akina and Carl Reese are looking for at the position -- a corner-type who has the physical ability to play safety -- and Griffin, and to a lesser extent Huff, should see plenty of PT. Whether those two split the vast majority of snaps or something less depends on the performance of Phillip Geiggar, who like Pearson missed spring ball for academic reasons. The junior two-letter winner is experienced, but he doesn't have the corner skills that the younger guys at the position possess, and that could keep him on the bench more than on the field. True freshman PT? Doubtful, with Matthew Melton the only incoming contestant.
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