AUBURN, Ala. Two members of Auburn's secondary have been asked to adjust to new positions this spring.
By all accounts, things couldn't be going much better for Johnathan Ford and Trovon Reed after two weeks of practice. Ford was simply shifted another spot in the secondary; last year, he played at corner, an unexpected move brought about by the Jonathan Jones' injury during fall camp. Recruited as a running back, Ford only appeared in the backfield in spot duty in 2013.
But he's already turning heads at safety.
When Gus Malzahn was asked whether any player had an impressive showing during Saturday's scrimmage, he immediately recalled a ferocious tackle from Ford.
"Rudy Ford is a guy that had a really good hit playing defense," the coach said. "He's a new guy playing defense, and that was probably the thing that stood out to me the most. There's a lot of other good things to him."
According to teammates, the player Ford lit up was early enrollee Stanton Truitt. After hauling in the ball on a screen pass, Truitt wasn't able to get far before Ford ran him down and blew up the play, lifting the true freshman off his feet.
Even though Angelo Blackson didn't remember all of the specifics of Ford's hit, he noted it gave the rest of the defense a boost.
"A lot of big hits from our young safeties," the senior defensive tackle said. "When Rudy hit I forgot who was coming across on the screen Rudy laid a lick on him, and that was a big play for us."
Ford's performance in the scrimmage was a carryover from what he had already shown Ellis Johnson since spring practice began.
"Other than making some mistakes just from lack of repetition, he's made some really good plays for us," Auburn's defensive coordinator said.
Things have been going every bit as well for Reed.
Like Ford did last year, he switched from offense to defense. Unlike Ford, he didn't play in the backfield. Instead, he was a receiver in his first three years as a Tiger.
That background, Malzahn believes, has been quite beneficial for the rising senior.
"The thing about Trovon is, he's a veteran guy," Malzahn said. "He's been around a long time, and even though he's playing receiver, you play receiver, you've got to understand DB. You play DB, you've got to understand receiver, and everything that goes with it. I know knowledge-wise, he's got a lot of experience. It's just, it's a matter of the little technical things that (cornerbacks) Coach (Melvin) Smith is asking him to do. He got a lot of reps (Saturday), so obviously, that's good moving forward."
Johnson couldn't agree more. He said Reed has "had a really good camp" with two weeks in the books.
He doesn't expect that to change by the time the A-Day game rolls around April 19.
"He's still learning the system, but I think from what Melvin's telling me about 1-on-1's, just his cover skills and playing the position physically, he's been a really bright spot," Johnson said. "We think he's going to help us tremendously."