Texas position groups to improve: No. 3

February, 12, 2014
Feb 12
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Texas is getting off to a later-than-usual start to its spring practices this year, with Charlie Strong set to lead the Longhorns onto the practice field for the first time on March 18.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesWith plenty of playing time available at safety, players such as Josh Turner (left) have chance to make a statement.
Until then, we’re counting down everything you need to know entering next season and the next era of Texas football. This week, we’re breaking down the five position groups with the most room to improve in 2014. We’ve already broken down No. 5 (tight ends) and No. 4 (defensive tackles). Here’s No. 3 on the list.

3. Safeties

The players: Mykkele Thompson, Josh Turner, Leroy Scott, Adrian Colbert, Erik Huhn, Kevin Vaccaro, John Bonney, Jason Hall

Last year: Adrian Phillips was the leader of the bunch, a senior captain who finished second on the team in tackles. Thompson, a junior, recorded 72 tackles and an interception in 12 starts. Turner started three games. Scott racked up three fumble recoveries and 2.5 TFLs in a limited role. Colbert mostly stuck to special teams, while Huhn and Vaccaro both sat out the season with injuries.

What’s missing: If there’s a position group that’s in for a reshuffling under the new staff, you have to think it’ll be the safeties. New secondary coaches Vance Bedford and Chris Vaughn will assess what they’re working with, and you could see spring practices become a trial period for all of these DBs until the right fit is found.

Thompson has 18 starts under his belt but still hasn’t become a physical hitter. Is he better off in another role? Turner and Scott can play multiple positions, and it’s time to see if Scott can develop into a starter this year after he showed flashes as a junior. This could be Colbert’s year, too.

And don’t forget Quandre Diggs. It’s not unfathomable to think he could dedicate more time to safety this spring if the new coaches are intrigued by that option.

Moving forward: It’s pretty simple: This is a critical offseason for all of these safeties. The slate has been wiped clean and the demands will be different.

Texas’ two secondary coaches can plug and play around during spring ball, and it’ll be fascinating to see who steps forward during the rigorous lifting program and improves his chances. It’s easy to envision a number of different combinations with this unit, and each player has something to prove over the next few months.

Max Olson | email

Texas/Big 12 reporter

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