AUBURN, Ala. — Auburns' DeRon Furr wants to play football, and he wants to play now.
That desire has led Furr, who went through spring practice at quarterback, to change positions in the hope of playing this fall as a freshman. The former Carver High standout has spent the last two weeks on the opposite side of the ball.
Instead of picking up the nuances of Tony Franklin's offense, he's now the protégé of new defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads as a safety.
“I wanted to play and didn't feel like I would get to as much as I want to,” Furr said. "I just wanted to get on the field faster. This is the quickest way for me to get to the NFL.”
The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Furr proved his mettle as a quarterback during Carver's state championship run in 2007, taking control and leading the Tigers to three consecutive comeback wins.
However, Furr found himself deep on Auburn's depth chart despite arriving at Auburn in January and going through spring practices. The Tigers are perilously thin in the secondary, particularly at safety.
“I'll miss the offense, but I can make plays on defense,” Furr said.
Furr only played quarterback his final two years at Carver, but before that, he said he always played both ways. He played safety and cornerback throughout his middle school and early high school career.
The key for him now will be learning the different reads in Rhoads' defense. He said sophomore Mike Slade, as well as a few other safeties, have been helping him make the transition.
“I can read a lot more at safety. I can read the quarterback's eyes, and I know what I would do,” Furr said. “Mike Slade has been helping me with coverages, but I'm asking questions of everyone.”
Furr said he discussed the position change with his family and friends and also some of the coaches before making the decision. Instead of working behind Chris Todd and Kodi Burns during summer skeleton drills, which feature receivers going against defensive backs and linebackers, Furr has spent the last few weeks working on his back pedaling and coverage skills.
“I like playing and competing,” Furr said. “I'm having fun out there.”
Since his arrival on The Plains, Auburn coaches have been impressed with Furr's athleticism. It should serve him well during the transition.
“My athletic ability will help a lot,” Furr said. “It's just learning the techniques so I can get on the field this year.”
Furr earned the Ledger-Enquirer's All-Bi-City Offensive Player of the Year honors, passing for 1,567 yards and 13 touchdowns, while rushing for 742 yards and 15 touchdowns.
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DERON FURR Age: 18 Ht./Wt.: 6-3/212 Class: Freshman Position: Safety High school stats: Passed for 1,567 yards and 13 touchdowns You might not know: Furr enrolled at Auburn in January to get a head start on other 2008 signees in the hopes of playing as a freshman.