Saturday, March 26, 2016

UConn's McAllister adjusting to life as a safety

Brice McAllister's initial reaction when the UConn coaching staff informed him that they wanted to move to safety was a certain amount of excitement at the prospects of getting onto the field. It wasn't long thereafter, however, when the reality of the move began to sink in.

When McAllister was playing cornerback, there was plenty of film to watch but usually it centered around what he was doing right or wrong. With the move to safety, he not only began to watch more film but had to watch other players and positions since the safeties are responsible for making so many defensive calls.

"The hardesrt part is probably the whole communication aspect," McAllister said. "When you play corner, all you have to do is listen but at safety. I make all the calls. Almost every night after practice or after dinner I will go and watch film and see what I could have done better that day."

The move of McAllister and Aaron Garland from cornerback to safety did not come as huge surprises considering that of the six safeties who saw defensive snaps a season ago, only starter Obi Melifonwu and reserve Anthony Watkins return. With the return of starters Jamar Summers and Jhavon Williams in addition to key reserves like Javon Hadley and John Green.

"He (UConn coach Bob Diaco) just saw this opportunity for me to get on the field and we were a little short at the safety position," McAllister said. "It is definitely an exciting opportunity and I am going to make the most of it."

McAllister admits that he is relying heavily on Melifonwu, who is not only the most experienced safety on the team but one of the most game-tested players on the 2016 UConn squad.

"I have been looking up to Obi a lot in my workouts and Tony, another safety, he has been helping me out a lot with the calls," McAllister said.

McAllister has been working mostly with the second-team defense but did see some time with the starters at Thursday's spring practice. It is too early to tell whether McAllister, current starter Watkins or another player will line up next to Melifonwu when the season gets rolling.

"Brice is a smart kid and that is one of the reasons why we moved him, we knew we could handle it," UConn defensive coordinator Anthony Poindexter said. "We are excited about his progress, he and Tony are doing a really good job right now so we will see how it pans out the rest of camp.

"Both of them will have to play, I'll have to get them ready to play as far who starts and who doesn't start, we'll just have to see but both of them will have to play."

Poindexter was an outstanding safety during his days at Virginia and had an impressive enough of a career to land on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot so he has a rather decent understanding of what it takes to play safety at the collegiate level.

"You are looking at the game from a different angle, now you are back in the center of the field while at corner you are on the edge, everything you are looking in at it," Poindexter said. "When you are a safety, you get more checks, you are running the defense, you are the quarterback of the defense and have a lot more stuff going on. There's a lot more communication, really at corner you don't have to say a word. They got it running and driving so it is new for them."

Another thing about McAllister I meant to get to last season was when he changed his number to 16. I thought it may be a way for him paying tribute to one of his mentors, Byron Jones who is now with the Dallas Cowboys but he said that is not the exactly the case.

"I wanted 26 when I got here but Josh (Marriner) wore it but Byron had a great season so I said 'I play DB, I'll put on 16.'"

McAllister admitted that the first couple of days of spring practice weren't the easiest but with each passing day he is getting more accustomed to his new position.

"I feel like I know what I am doing now.," McAllister said. "The first couple of days, I was a little iffy, I was unsure about things but now I know what I am doing and can run full speed."


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home