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August 12, 2010Several position groups are up for grabs this fall on both sides of the ball, and if you believe head coach Rich Rodriguez, no starters are safe. The defense, especially, will feature some battles.
That includes last year's surprise, strong safety (now "bandit") Jordan Kovacs, who started eight games and finished with 75 tackles, second on the team.
"He's the guy taking the first reps right now, but in everybody's case you're trying to create a competitive environment," defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said. "Jordan is one of those people who gets the most out of himself, is able to do a number of things and is also one of those people that can make other people around him better. Those guys are few and far between.
"When you come across those players you find yourself somewhat attached to them, because not only do they do their job, they are able to communicate in ways that keep others really in the flow of things. Jordan has that capability. That's an advantage for him."
That said, Kovacs won't be handed the job.
"If someone comes along that is just more gifted and a better player, that's the case [he'll play]. We're just two days into camp and it's hard to say we have that person who has emerged and that's truly pushing him at this time."
One who could freshman Marvin Robinson. The gifted athlete stood out among the freshmen he saw in seven-on-sevens, cornerback Troy Woolfolk said.
"I've just seen him a couple of days. Like a lot of those freshmen, they are just working their way into the flow of things," Greg Robinson said. "I know this he walks around the building looking really good.
I will say this sometimes there are some freshmen that come in that are just happy to be here, and there are others very driven to see if they can break in right now. Some see themselves a little differently. I can't say I've got everybody assessed, but I can say Marvin Robinson is one who is intent to try to jump in there and get going."
Redshirt freshman Thomas Gordon emerged this spring at the "spur" position, but he'll also be pushed.
"We've got Kevin Leach there, Floyd Simmons and now we've brought in Josh Furman at that position," Robinson said. "That's really kind of where it's at. I don't know it's a done deal yet. It's competitive. We're just a couple days in, haven't been in pads. That comes into play.
"All those guys are giving up something to get something. We give up size to get something else, but there's still got to be physical play involved. That's what Stevie [Brown] brought. He was a physical football player but could still run around. The younger guys especially have to show their wares in that area."
Finally, Robinson likes what he's seen from projected starting inside linebackers Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh, but they'll also be challenged by Mike Jones [will] and Kenny Demens [mike].
"They both had very good springs. Mike was hurt for a period of time, and once he got back in I already had an idea of what he could do the year before because we had him at SAM, and I spent a year coaching him," said Robinson. "When I finally got him in there he took to it right away at the will position.
"Kenny had a good spring. These guys are in the hunt, and they're guys I don't think I'd have a problem with if they were playing in a football game."