Auburn football: Projecting the Tigers' post-spring free safety depth chart

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comMay 15, 2014 

Jermaine Whitehead's status as Auburn's starting free safety is set in stone.

KYLE TAYLOR — Auburn University

Editor's note: Auburn's spring practice concluded with the A-Day game April 19. Some positions didn't change. Some had upheaval. With that in mind, Auburn beat writer Ryan Black will give his position-by-position projection of the entire depth chart as the Tigers head into the summer. The series continues with the free safeties.

Who's Who:

Who's Staying: Jermaine Whitehead, senior: Started all 14 games; 65 tackles (44 solo, 21 assisted), 2.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, six pass breakups, one fumble recovery

Johnathan Ford, sophomore: Appeared in 14 games; Five tackles (Two solo, three assisted), one PBU

Pre-spring projection:

1. Whitehead

2. Trent Fisher

Pre-spring projection:

1. Whitehead

2. Ford

Analysis: It's far from surprising that Whitehead remains at the top of the depth chart.

After all, his starting job wasn't in question in the first place. This fall, the senior will return to the starting lineup for the third straight season and his second as the top free (or if one prefers, field) safety. But as noted above, the backup spot saw a slight shakeup.

At the beginning of the spring, Gus Malzahn confirmed that Fisher had departed the program at the end of last season. No, he never started a game, but he had been a solid contributor in his three years on the Plains, recording 25 tackles and an interception in 33 appearances. Even if he was still on the roster, there's no guarantee he could have held off Ford. The sophomore moved to safety (from corner) when the Tigers opened the spring and seemed to adapt quickly.

As many recall, however, Ford was originally brought to Auburn as a running back; talking to him prior to the BCS championship game, he still harbors hopes that he could return to the backfield one day.

Will that ever happen? Keep your eyes peeled for a story on that very subject on Friday.

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