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.