The First Bank & Trust Friday Q&A: Safeties, Recruiting, And The Future Landscape

Virginia Tech
As the only proven safety on the team, Jalen Stroman is very important for Virginia Tech. (Jon Fleming)

1) Safety… are we OK? We’ve got Jalen Stroman at SS I guess. But he (like most safeties) has a history of getting a targeting or two. Jaylen Jones and Mose Phillips at FS are competing for starting spot? Williams, Fleming, Reddish… are any expecting to be ready to contribute? — st_andrew

Chris Coleman: I have complete faith in Jalen Stroman as either a free safety or strong safety. We know he’s starting; we just don’t know what position quite yet. If Jaylen Jones starts, Stroman would play strong safety. If it turns out to be Mose Phillips, I would expect to see Stroman starting at free safety with Phillips on the boundary. Either way, the other starting safety position is a big question mark, and if anything were to happen to Stroman, both positions would be questionable.

Last year, Phillips showed why it’s so difficult to play safety as a true freshman. It’s not like cornerback where the sideline is your friend, the angles are easier and you don’t have to worry as much about the run. At safety, you’ve got stuff coming at you from all angles, you have to worry about the run and pass equally, the tackling angles are more difficult, you don’t have the help of the sideline, etc. There’s a reason that hardly any safeties have played as true freshmen over the years, and it’s why I would expect Quentin Reddish to redshirt this year, though I do think he’s a very good prospect.

Here’s a little story for you. Kam Chancellor played as a true freshman, but not as a safety. He played special teams and backup cornerback that year to get used to the speed of the game before moving to safety as a sophomore. What you probably don’t know, though, is that after working with him for a year at corner, Torian Gray didn’t want Chancellor at free safety. Rovers coach Jim Cavanaugh was glad to take him, though, and after a year at rover (where you don’t have to worry about space as much as at FS), he made the transition to Gray and free safety (though his best season at Tech was his sophomore year at rover).

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