Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Position Switch: Cameron Gordon to Safety

Wide receiver Cameron Gordon has switched to safety

AnnArbor.com published an article yesterday about wide receiver Cameron Gordon making the switch to safety. A former 4-star wide receiver, he came to Michigan in part because the coaches told him he could compete at wideout. He spent his freshman season redshirting. Reports from practice indicated that he had good hands and, at 6'2" and 210 lbs., was willing to go over the middle. Unfortunately for him, Rodriguez's offense at Michigan hasn't shown a propensity for using wide receivers in the middle of the field. That would be practically the equivalent of having a rifle-armed defensive tackle. The offense predicates itself on getting athletes in space, and Gordon doesn't have the speed or quickness to shake free from cornerbacks.

The article doesn't identify which safety position Gordon will play, but one can assume that he'll play the weak safety position, where he'll likely compete with freshmen Marvin Robinson and Carvin Johnson, redshirt sophomore Jordan Kovacs, and redshirt junior Mike Williams. This position requires less speed and a more physically imposing presence than the strong safety position. As the article illustrates, Gordon displayed some good hitting ability during special teams practice, so much so that the defensive coaches hinted constantly that he should move to defense.

This switch is far from surprising. In last season's preview profile of Gordon, I suggested that he would be better off on defense. I still think he's best suited for linebacker, particularly the weak inside linebacker position held tenuously by Jonas Mouton. Perhaps this is the next step in a slow transition to WILL, because I don't foresee Gordon having the speed to play weak safety, either. There are times in this defense where the strong safety has to roll over to play man coverage on the strong side, meaning the weak safety has to back up to play the deep middle or a deep half. In my opinion, this would expose Gordon, as it did Jordan Kovacs at times last year.

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