The free safety position is one that for some reason seems enigmatic to me. Yes, we have a fine starter here in Okechukwu Okoroha, and some talent coming in, but I feel as though I don’t pay attention to this one as much as I do some of the others on defense. Given some of the names we’ve got here, perhaps I should.
At the time this article was prepared, he was still listed by Boston College as a safety. Now, thanks to a recent Twitter tip from Boston College fan @billg and having heard of his scrimmage performance at wide receiver, and that BC has changed his position from FS/WR to just WR, it is evident now that he will play WR. By the time that was made clear, however, the WR article was already posted and I didn’t want the mention of Hughes to get buried in an edit a week after I posted it. Safety was his position, but he is being tested on a new side of the ball.
Hughes was the second-string free safety from last season and a former walk-on who now has a scholarship. Based on what I’ve seen, he made his way into seven games over the last two years at FS but failed to crack the stat sheet in 2010. Hughes comes from a football family, as his father played for the Dallas Cowboys for six seasons.
The man with the best name on the team (though I think Spiffy Evans would probably contend otherwise) played as the starter at free safety last year, with decent results. When Wes Davis was injured and his football career ended, Okoroha took this spot and garnered 27 tackles and a pass breakup. It remains to be seen what this Marylander can do with a full season of starting, but based on what we’ve witnessed of his play so far, he should end up doing well at this position.
Sylvia hails from Dartmouth, down south near New Bedford, but he played his high school ball in Connecticut. We saw nothing of this safety in 2010 who had an interesting academic road to the heights. He did at one time play for Dartmouth High School on the south coast, but his grades were hardly anywhere near where they had to be for good programs to take notice, so he spent a year at another school, got his grades up, and subsequently received an offer from BC. Sylvia is now the second-stringer here behind Okoroha.
Richardson comes from Collingswood, NJ where he played both safety and running back. His running back stats broke several school records, but defensively (where he is listed), he made sixty tackles and picked off three balls. If you were curious about his speed and athleticism, he also played on the track and field team in high school, which in itself doesn’t say anything, but it would suggest that he’s no slouch in the running and jumping department.
Rositano is one of the few incoming recruits I’ve found so far who spelled out his own scouting report in his own words on a video you can find online. Apparently, he’s played multiple positions on his football team in Virginia, including offense, defense, and special teams (yes, he was a kicker). He’s coming to the Eagles as a defensive back, however, and carries a reputation as a good practicer and a ballhawk. Rositano is also under the impression that he’ll be redshirted in 2011, which is probably what I would have guessed as well.
Okoroha is most likely going to retain his starting job throughout 2011, and maybe 2012 if there aren’t any changes during his senior season. With Hughes flipping to wide receiver, however, there are a whole lot of freshman behind Okoroha on the depth chart here, so youth and inexperience will get some playing time here over the course of the season when Okoroha isn’t on the field.