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University of Akron Zips blog

Zips breakdown: SAFETIES

By mrasor Published: June 7, 2007

Sometimes I wish you could trade players in college football.
It really would make every team a lot better.
For example, Akron should ship three of its six excellent safeties over to Ohio State for two backup defensive linemen and a receiver. Of course, you can't search through other teams' rosters for pieces you might want to improve your club (unless you are OU basketball assistant Brian Townsend).
What were we talking about? Oh yeah, safeties. Akron boasts a ton of experience and talent at its three safety positions...
You probably know about team captain John Mackey, who played last season with a chipped shoulder socket. The senior from Jackson Township also managed to lead the team in tackles with 88. As good as he is, it's Mackey's leadership that could make the difference for the Zips. He may only be 6-foot on his tippy toes, but he's got a lumberjack's beard, fiery attitude and you can never quite tell when he's going to snap.
Mackey plays the "rover" position, which is a hybrid between safety and linebacker sort of like the "bandit" spot. However, rover is closer to being a defensive back. At second string is the talented Wayne Cobham, who played in every game as a freshman and appears to be ready for more responsibility.
Brandon Anderson, a junior, won the strong safety job from senior Chevin Pace this spring. Anderson had played a little safety in the spring, but I thought it was just an experiment. Apparently, J.D. Brookhart liked what he saw. Anderson was recruited as a cornerback. He has put on 15 pounds since arriving on campus, so that could be a reason the coaches think he'll be better as a safety. Pace is a capable starter, for sure. But his stats were subpar last season. Coming off a knee injury, Pace only broke up one pass in 11 games.
Andre Jones, a junior, is the starter at free safety, but he had to hold off a surging senior in Yamari Dixon this spring. Dixon laid some serious pops on his teammates two months ago. Despite being 5-9, it's almost as if Dixon lights a fuse and fires the crown of his helmet at the ball. Jones had a good spring, too, though. And his stats last season (77 tackles, seven pass breakups and an interception) rightfully reserved his starting job.
Last season, two of the Zips top-four tacklers were safeties. I don't know everything about football, but that probably isn't a good thing. It means either 1) a lot of running backs are reaching the secondary or 2) a lot of receivers are beating their cornerbacks.
Regardless, the safeties look prepared to do their job again this season. Even Isiah Thomas could make a trade with that depth to improve the team.

    New offers:
    Jamal Wilson, wide receiver, Chesapeake, Va. Offers: Akron, Maryland, Northern Illinois and Marshall Height: 5-foot-11 Weight: 176 Speed: 4.4 Notes: The Zips offered Wilson a scholarship after a camp in North Carolina last weekend. Likelihood: Wilson has four offers and three favorites. Akron is not one of them. He likes NIU and Maryland because they were talking to him from the beginning. Marshall throws the ball a lot, so they stick out, too. Maybe the Zips can persuade Wilson to take a visit to change his mind.
    Drew Stevens, linebacker, Lewis Center, Ohio Offers: Akron and Kent State Height: 6-3 Weight: 215 Speed: 4.53 Notes: With his size and speed, it's strange to see only two Bowl Division offers on the table. Reading a little about him, it seems Stevens is raw on defense. Offense has been a bigger focus for him during high school, where he is a running back who also led the team in receiving yards. He sounds like a heckuva sleeper to me. Likelihood: Any time Brookhart is going head to head with another MAC team, he should be confident. In this case, Kent State offered Stevens a scholarship as early as possible, so he might feel some loyalty toward the Flashes.
    Travis Kelce, quarterback/tight end, Cleveland Heights Offers: Akron and Kansas Height: 6-5 Weight: 233 Speed: 4.87 Notes: Much like current Zip Brian Flaherty, Kelce plays quarterback in high school, but may project to tight end in college. A recent camp might have swayed Kelce completely to tight end. He underperformed at quarterback but impressed some BCS coaches with his pass catching. The question is whether he can block. Likelihood: Once Kelce puts all his energy into tight end, he could garner some bigger offers. For now, Akron has a good shot.
    John Oliver, offensive tackle, LaGrange, Ga. Offers: Akron, Arkansas and South Florida Height: 6-6 Weight: 270 Speed: Not listed Notes: Strangely, does not list Oliver, who certainly has the size to be a decent recruit. Likelihood: I can't find anything else on him.
    Marquis Hamm, defensive end, New Brunswick, N.J. Offers: Akron, Colorado, Syracuse, Temple and Toledo Height: 6-4 Weight: 220 Speed: 4.7 Notes: Grades might be an issue with Hamm. West Virginia, hardly known for recruiting only upstanding players, is waiting to see Hamm's grades before extending a scholarship offer. This recruit reminds me a lot of the touted defensive linemen Akron has landed the past five years that never reached the field. Likelihood: Hamm's two favorites are Syracuse and Connecticutt, although the Huskies have not offered.

Men's basketball
The ABJ's Terry Pluto wrote a column comparing the roles of Daniel Gibson and Dru Joyce and about Keith Dambrot's impact on the Chosen One's career.
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