Coming into spring as tentative starters are junior Elisha Olabode at free, sophomore Sam Carter at strong and sophomore Jonathan Anderson at weak safety. Olabode, who played well at corner as a true freshman out of Cedar Hill in 2010, totaled 15 tackles as well as 2 pass break-ups and a fumble recovery last year while playing in all 13 games as Johnny Fobbs' backup at free safety. Carter, a converted quarterback, had 8 tackles in 11 games last year to go along with a pass break-up. Anderson, seen as many by the safety with the most star potential, had 49 tackles a year ago while making one start. He opened many eyes with his performance in the win over BYU, when he had 11 tackles (6 of them solo) and an interception.
The only other safeties on the roster with game experience are junior Trent Thomas and sophomore Geoff Hooker. Thomas started four games early in the season, and ended the year with 18 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss. He opens spring as the third-team weak safety. Hooker, a walk-on from Sherman, earned himself some special teams playing time late in the 2011 season and registered 3 tackles. He is the third team option at free safety.
A trio of redshirt freshmen open the spring as second-stringers at each of the safety positions. Chris Hackett, out of Tyler, will be gunning for Olabode's job at free. James Bailey, a speedster from Everman, will be working to unseat Carter at strong and Quincy Aldridge, out of Whitehouse (the same high school as Luke Shivers) will be chasing Anderson's role as starting weak safety. A fourth redshirt freshman, the hard-hitting Florida native Jamie Byrd, comes into spring as the third option at strong safety.
If there is one position at which Patterson isn't hesitant to make a quick switch, it is safety. He will change his depth chart multiple times while he figures out which combination of athletes will make the most plays, and that is especially true now that Chad Glasgow is back to coach the safeties after spending one year in the barren wasteland they call "Lubbock". If starting and second-team positions are not set in stone by the end of spring drills, look for a talented trio of true freshman (the Georgia duo of Zach Jackson and Jordan Moore as well as Derrick Kindred out of San Antonio) to be given their own chance to break into the rotation.
Who do you predict will step up this spring to claim starting roles at each of the three safety positions? Which of the redshirt freshman will impress the most? The posts about the rumored new logo showed that you guys are wanting to have your voice heard in the comments section, so let's hear your opinions!