AUBURN, Ala. — It's been a smooth transition to safety for Johnathan Ford.
A backup corner last season, the rising sophomore moved to safety this spring. And the gains the player known as "Rudy" has made since then have been staggering.
"Rudy jumps out at me real quickly right now," Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. "He really looks like a different guy than in the spring. He's making less mistakes. He's making some plays that he might have been a step slow on in the spring. But either his eyes or his fundamentals are now matching up with his skill set and he's making some plays out there that's really grabbing our attention."
Johnson isn't the only one who has noticed, either.
"He's coming along real good, real fast," senior receiver Quan Bray said. "I don't think he'll get beat deep too many times because he's always on alert. Like (Sunday) at practice, I had a deep ball on a 'go route.' As soon as I looked up, he had recovered. He's got good recovering speed, so I'm excited to see him back there playing."
Johnson said Ford has been taking his reps at free safety, where Jermaine Whitehead is holding down the starting spot.
Ford made five tackles last season, though he nearly matched that total in the A-Day game, as he recorded four takedowns. Originally recruited as a running back, Ford made the most of his limited opportunities to carry the ball in 2013, running for 73 yards and one touchdown on six carries.