This is the sixth in a series of reports in which we try to determine if the Arizona Wildcats’ position groups are in strong, stable, unstable, serious or critical condition heading into spring ball, which begins Monday. Next up: safeties.
Returning Starters: Scottie Young Jr., Tristan Cooper
Backups: Jarrius Wallace, Dayven Coleman, Chacho Ulloa, Troy Young, Christian Young, Rhedi Short, Xavier Bell
New Additions: Jaxen Turner, Bobby Wolfe
Key Departures: Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Isaiah Hayes
Safety has been one of Arizona’s best and deepest position groups over the last few years and the same holds true for the 2019 season.
Between bandit (slot corner/free safety), spur (linebacker/safety) and free safety, there are multiple combinations that can be used with the Wildcats’ personnel.
We’ll start with free safety, which has a more solidified group.
Scottie Young Jr. will likely be retaining his starting spot in the secondary, as he’s been one of Arizona’s more aggressive playmakers over the last two seasons.
Rotating in with him is Jarrius Wallace, who had an up-and-down season in 2018. A big spring will help him bounce back stronger into the rotation.
At spur it’s Tristan Cooper’s job to lose. He started as a true freshman and in 2018 but not in 2017, when Dane Cruikshank stepped in as the starter.
But Cooper will need a big spring himself as he’ll have Dayven Coleman eyeing the starting spot. The quick, hard-hitting safety was shut down early last season due to an injury. The potential is there, and perhaps he’s someone who develops quickly as the season goes on.
Bandit is where things get interesting. With Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles starting there for essentially the entirety of his four years, this position seems wide open heading into spring.
There are a handful of guys who could go from corner to bandit and it’s unclear what the current composition of this group is.
Chacho Ulloa has been a bit of a late-bloomer who worked his way up from special teams. Safeties coach John Rushing seemed to show confidence in him as the season went on.
Troy Young has a lot of versatility and will ultimately be on the field regardless as he’s moved between bandit, free and corner during his time. Bandit might ultimately be the best position for him, but he likely fill in any gaps in the secondary based on need this spring and going forward.
Entering the program as a bandit, but switching over to corner midway through his freshman campaign was Christian Young. From my understanding he will be moving back to safety this spring, and would be my pick to win the starting bandit job.
In the mix is Xavier Bell as well. A long safety out of powerhouse Mater Dei in California, he saw the field quite a bit last season and could step into a bigger role this spring.
One of Arizona’s highest-ranked recruits, Bobby Wolfe, could also come into play. Primarily a corner at Madison High School in Houston, Arizona announced him as a safety when he signed in December.
While there is a clear need for him at corner to help with depth, perhaps they view him as a guy who could come in immediately and at start at bandit. He had over 25 offers including Georgia, Oklahoma and LSU, so the talent is there, he just needs to put together a strong spring to make a move up the depth chart.
To be honest, I’m unsure exactly what position Rhedi Short would fall under, perhaps spur, but he needs to put together a big spring to get on the field. If there’s no movement on the depth chart a transfer wouldn’t be out of the question.
Jaxen Turner, my personal favorite signee of the class, will be joining the team in the fall. He’s a true mix between all three safety positions. Free might be best for him, which has some solidified pieces, but I think he’ll be able to move around and fill in the cracks much like Troy Young.
The safety group is filled with talent that can mix and match at various positions. Even with injuries the next man up doesn’t have a steep drop off whatsoever.
Personally I trust any combination of these safeties to be out on the field at any given time.
What condition are Arizona’s safeties in?
This poll is closed
Other position previews
- What condition are Arizona’s quarterbacks in heading into spring practice?
- What condition is Arizona’s defensive line in heading into spring practice?
- What condition are Arizona’s cornerbacks in heading into spring practice?
- What condition are Arizona’s running backs in heading into spring practice?
- What condition are Arizona’s tight ends in heading into spring practice?
- What condition is Arizona’s offensive line in heading into spring practice?
- What condition are Arizona’s linebackers in heading into spring practice?
- What condition is Arizona’s special teams in heading into spring practice?
- What condition are Arizona’s wide receivers in heading into spring practice?