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very thin’ Auburn safety position

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aubiefifty    508
oanow.com
 

Stephen Roberts, Tray Matthews, Nick Ruffin anchor ‘very thin’ Auburn safety position

Josh Vitale | AU Writer Follow on Twitter Like on Facebook
 

Stephen Roberts doesn’t feel any different now that he’s a rising senior at Auburn.

But he has noticed a difference in how he’s treated.

“You kind of get more respect than you did as a freshman,” he said Tuesday. “I’ve been playing at this school for four years, so it’s kind of nice to be the older guy now.”

Roberts, an Opelika High product, is one of three “older guys” at safety for Auburn, joining fellow seniors Tray Matthews and Nick Ruffin at the top of the rotation. The Tigers will lean on those three heavily on the back end of the defense: With last year’s top reserve Markell Boston no longer with the program, the No. 4 player on the depth chart is former walk-on Michael Sherwood.

We’re very thin there,” defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said. “Very, very thin.”

What they lack in depth, though, they make up for in experience. All three have three have played three years in the SEC.

After serving a one-game suspension at the start of last year after being arrested during fall camp, Roberts returned to have the best season of his career, totaling 57 tackles, 1 ½ tackles for loss, two passes defended and two interceptions.

Matthews, a former Georgia transfer, also had a career year, leading the Tigers with 76 tackles and chipping in a tackle for loss, forced fumble, pass breakup and interception. Ruffin added 32 tackles, a tackle for loss and three passes defended as a reserve behind the two starters.

"It's great,” Matthews said of the veteran safety corps. “We all have great grasp on the scheme. We know everything that's going on. It'll be tremendous for the team. We can all step up and be leaders."

Even Sherwood is a senior. Though he’s recorded only five tackles in his career on special teams, the man they call “Dirty Mike” has earned solid reviews from teammates in early spring practices.

“He’s done really well. Dirty is a guy that brings energy. Anywhere he goes, he brings energy,” Roberts said. “He’s kind of a hype guy around here, but he can really play. He’s really smart, has great hips and speed as well.”

Roberts, Matthews, Ruffin and Sherwood will get some reinforcements in the fall. Steele said there are a number of young cornerbacks and nickel backs who could shift to safety once injured players like Jamel Dean and Jayvaughn Myers get healthy. Auburn will also add two three-star safety signees in Carlito Gonzalez and Jordyn Peters.

But for now, Roberts seems eager to take on the responsibility of being an older guy anchoring the back end of the defense.

“We ain’t got that much depth. So I mean, we just kind of have to work with what we have,” Roberts said. “We’re all together, so everybody is one on one. Got to be on time and focus on the things we need to do because we don’t have that much. We’re just trying to get the young guys to learn and know the plays and know their jobs so we can have depth.”

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casatiger    29

Think we are thin this year?  What about next year?  Losing 4 seniors.   I assume losing Boston was a bit of a surprise or we may have signed another Safety in the last class.  Perhaps when our injury situation improves we won't be as thin as it looks.  

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corchjay    1,684

We will have to move corners to safety to build depth this season and hopefully some can transition there after this season and hope for no more attrition and no injuries.  2 very limited recruiting classes with coaching changes can do that to a position but it's imperative that we get 4-5 dbs this cycle.  

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DAG    2,553

Seems like this is a recurrent theme

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aufan57    488

We have an outstanding, experienced Secondary Coach, who will coach these young me up. Expect to see much improved Secondary play next season. 

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ellitor    4,705
24 minutes ago, bigbird said:

3 true safeties in this cycle are a must. Period.

With at least 1 needing to be a stud that can play immediately. May have to go to juco to get 1 this cycle

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Barnacle    1,093
1 minute ago, ellitor said:

With at least 1 needing to be a stud that can play immediately. May have to go to juco to get 1 this cycle

Is there even a safety worth looking at in JUCO? No one on the radar in what limited 2018 rankings are available on 247. 

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corchjay    1,684

That's why I said before that Whitlow or Iggy one of those needs to move to DB and start training as soon as they get on campus.  Both are good athletes and can provide depth, maybe look for a GT next year plus a juco guy to go along with 2-3 safety high school guys.  

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corchjay    1,684

Alaric is probably the only one possible at this point.  Although I would like to see him stay at RB for at least a year.  

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lkeel75    456

Wasn't Irving a safety before he left last year because depth chart was too deep.  haha joke is on him... NOT

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McLoofus    3,574

I was thinking about Williams, too. Here is a quick little conversation about it in his recruiting thread.
 

 

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corchjay    1,684

Irvin IMO was over rated because of his uncle and not ideal height for a safety and not fast or fluid enough for corner and he would be a senior or junior next year as well.

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corchjay    1,684

We are probably ok unless we have a couple injuries this year.  I expect Character to move to Safety... And you have Roberts, Matthews, Ruffin, Dirty Mike, all there now... Plus the 2 true freshmen coming in.  It's next year is the issue with no experience and lack of depth.  That's why a GT or juco would be a good route for 1-2 players and 1-2 from high school as well.  

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ellitor    4,705
1 hour ago, Barnacle said:

Is there even a safety worth looking at in JUCO? 

Tony Bridges was who we had committed for a very long time.

1 hour ago, Barnacle said:

No one on the radar in what limited 2018 rankings are available on 247. 

There may not be 1 in 2018 but it's too soon to tell at this point. Evals for 2018 jucos have barely even begun by the recruiting sites.

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ellitor    4,705
19 minutes ago, lkeel75 said:

Wasn't Irving a safety before he left last year because depth chart was too deep.  haha joke is on him... NOT

He left because he was a tweener in our system & there really wasn't a spot for him.

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Barnacle    1,093
Just now, ellitor said:

Tony Bridges was who we had committed for a very long time.

I remember when that was going on. I meant is there a current JUCO safety worth looking at.

There may not be 1 in 2018 but it's too soon to tell at this point. Evals for 2018 jucos have barely even begun by the recruiting sites.

That makes sense, thanks.

 

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casatiger    29

The kid (Bishop?) we lost to Uga would have been in great shape to lead our safeties for the next few years.  Oh well, he chose to be a mutt.  I am sure the coaches will focus heavily on safeties in this cycle and load us up.  Is safety a position that is a little more forgiving than say Corner from a recruiting standpoint?  Seems like you can recruit kids from several positions in high school to play it.  

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corchjay    1,684

we should definitely be able to sell playing time.   Harris and Monday appear to be the early attention getters from the coaching staff.

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ellitor    4,705
7 minutes ago, casatiger said:

The kid (Bishop?) we lost to Uga would have been in great shape to lead our safeties for the next few years. 

Devon Hunter, who we led with before Crime Dog left, would have been better.

7 minutes ago, casatiger said:

Is safety a position that is a little more forgiving than say Corner from a recruiting standpoint?

No. They are highly valued.

Edited by ellitor

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ellitor    4,705
3 minutes ago, corchjay said:

we should definitely be able to sell playing time.   Harris and Monday appear to be the early attention getters from the coaching staff.

I think the staff sees Harris as a LB.

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ellitor    4,705

Since the talk has evolved to recruiting, moving the thread to the recruiting forum.

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