The Good, The Bad and The Questions: S

PERHAPS NOWHERE will growth and improvement be more readily apparent to fans than at the safety position this fall camp at WSU. Indeed, a good-sized jump in speed and quality of play at safety is expected to be in the offing for 2010. But what questions still need to be answered? In CF.C's ongoing series leading to the start of fall camp on Sunday, we train the microscope on the safety position.

The Good:
The position is stacked, with returning talent plus highly regarded players who spent last year redshirting and making noise on the scout team.

Competition galore figures to follow -- which in turn should lead to a higher quality of play.

LeAndre Daniels, a redshirt sophomore, has the chance to be a special player by the time he exhausts his eligibility.

Chima Nwachukwu is a senior who has started 34 games in the WSU backfield between safety and corner. All of that accumulated knowledge should pay dividends in 2010.

Tyree Toomer, like the two listed above him, had an excellent spring. Toomer, Daniels and Nwachukwu are the top candidates to start at safety headed into fall camp – a good development considering the other safeties in the group.

Jamal Atofau, Casey Locker and Jay Matthews all showed improvement in the spring though Matthews, as he has all his career, battled injuries. What Atofau and Locker bring to the mix is speed.

And what the group now has, that they haven't in the first two years of Wulff's tenure at WSU, is depth and speed.

There have always been flashes here and there but what makes this year different is that headed into fall camp, Daniels, Nwachukwu and Toomer are performing with far more consistency. Before, it was a few good plays in a row, suddenly followed by a lapse. Those lapses were rarely seen this spring.

The Bad:
There's not much to nitpick here. About the only thing that can be mentioned is that it needs to happen at safety, out on the field, on Saturdays, before some fans will become true believers that the safety position will be one of the Cougs' strengths on defense.

The Questions:
Can Deone Bucannon and Tyrone Duckett, the two incoming frosh from the recruiting class, earn early playing time?

Or will they redshirt? It's hard to imagine either being so polished out of the gate at safety, a position that unlike cornerback does not lend itself at the college level to immediate playing time by gifted athletes, cracking the starting lineup or rotation. But both are athletic and until fall camp gets rolling and newcomers are out there competing, you never truly know for certain.

Who will be the two starters among the group of Toomer, Daniels and Nwachukwu? Will someone else make a large leap and firmly plant themselves in the starting mix?

Will a heavier rotation be used at safety in ‘10, what with the number of high-end players now in the fold?


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