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Positional Outlooks: Safety

I'm writing some positional outlooks for our beloved Buffaloes. They are based on what I've read and seen of the players we've got.


We gave up far too many deep passes last year, and the safeties missed too many tackles. Yes we got some solid play from former CB Benjamin Burney, who really saved our pass-defense after a couple of exceptionally poor outing, but it still was a position of weakness last season. This year it looks to be different. We return two guys who started games at safety this year, both of whom are fast and can hit. We will have to wait and see if they have improved their coverage skills, but I'm confident that they will be much better this season. It doesn't hurt that they've got a pair of phenomenal corners on the outside, who don't often need much help. And the all important 5th DB in this defense will most likely be a Freshman, which doesn't scare me one bit.

The cast:

  • Cameron Ham, Sr
    • He was moved from WR to Safety and he will have a lot to do in order to compete for a spot here, but maybe less so than at WR. He has some size and he can run, but he hasn't seen the field much throughout his career here at CU.
  • Matt Meyer, Jr
    • He is a walk on that plays hard. His lack of size and speed will hurt his chances of getting playing time. He does make plays on the ball when he gets his chances in practice, and definitely likes to hit. He just doesn't factor into the equation with the other talented athletes that CU has at the position.
  • Anthony Perkins, Jr
    • Perkins is the guy at Safety. He runs the defensive backfield, making sure guys are lined up in the right place and on assignment. He loves to hit and is a pretty good tackler. A leader, just as the most experienced guy should be. He is smart and has improved in coverage. He will be involved in some turnovers this season.
  • Arthur Jaffee, Jr
    • He is a Boulder guy and one of the fastest players on the team. He was originally a RB, and then a CB, but has spent this spring at Safety. He was a solid contributor when he was given the chance to return kickoffs. He is solid and provides solid depth, but he would have to make some serious leaps to beat out the guys ahead of him on the depth chart.
  • Travis Sandersfeld, Jr
    • He is a really good all-around football player. He is smart and knows the defense, which is why he is currently practicing as the Nickel DB (part Corner, part Safety, and part LB in our defense). Unfortunately for Sandersfeld, he has the bad luck to be playing the same position as standout redshirt freshman Parker Orms. The competition between the two is fierce, but Orms looks like he has a solid hold of the position for now. Sandersfeld will play and he will play well, but Orms is a pretty special player. Sandersfeld is always around the ball and has good instincts, but so does his counterpart. He will see the field, but not as much as I'm sure he would like to. He is also the nephew of Ralphie Report reader Mark Fribbs, a very nice guy.
  • Vince Ewing, So
    • He is a guy that I don't know too much about. I have seen him out there on the field the last couple of years, but he has never stood out to me. And he apparently suffered an ACL tear in the scrimmage, so he is out for the season. He has been around for a couple of years, so his ability to come back from the injury next season will be a pretty good indicator of whether he will see the field in his time at CU or not.
  • Ray Polk, So
    • He is big, fast and he likes to hit. His coverage skills are improving, as is his ability to track the ball carrier through traffic. He has been getting better each time I have seen him on the field, which bodes well for the upcoming season. He has as much potential as anybody on the squad based upon his athletic abilities. He will be the starter next to Perkins, but will he be consistently good? We will have to see, though his work in the fall practices was promising.
  • Terrel Smith, Fr
    • The talk of the freshmen defenders thus far in fall camp, Smith has definitely been trying to prove his worth with the team. He has managed to secure a role with the twos at a position with a lot of depth (though the quality of that depth is suspect). He is a very big hitter for a guy that only stands 5-8, though he isn't perfect. I witnessed Quentin Hildreth run right over him on a play in practice, so he has some techniques that need refining. But who better to help him refine his techniques than new DB Coach Ashley Ambrose, a former NFL pro-bowler? Smith has flashed the ability to be a starter at CU sometime in the near future. He may have to wait for Perkins to graduate, but this guy will be hungrily waiting in the wings, ready to make an impact on the team.
  • Parker Orms, Fr
    • Orms can flat out play. He is an impact player in every sense of the word. A ballhawk, a great tackler, good in coverage and unafraid of contact. What more could you want from your Nickel DB? Size? Well if you're complaining about Orms' size, how did you feel about Cha'pelle Brown last year? Orms has 4 inches and 15-20 pounds on Brown. Sure, Orms will line up like a Linebacker on occasion, but he can hit like one, so he will be OK. I wouldn't be surprised to see Orms be among the team leaders in most of the defensive statistical categories. He should cause lots of turnovers and make lots of tackles. His zone coverage skills can still use some work, but his instincts are great overall. We have four excellent years to look forward to from this kid. Down the road there is a good chance he will move to one of the Safety positions. But for now, I like him as the 5th DB quite a bit.
  • Terdema Ussery, Fr
    • He was recently switched from WR to S. He has exceptional size and pretty good speed. I didn't get to see him get many reps in practice, but I have a feeling he could compete for some playing time here in another season or two. If he can hit, then he could be a phenomenal DB. He is a very smart guy, so picking up the defense shouldn't be too hard for him, but we won't know about his development for a while.

In 2010:

Perkins and Polk will be the starters at Free Safety and Strong Safety, and Orms will get the most snaps as the 5th DB. Considering the schools we play this year, there will be a lot of the 5 DB formations, which means Orms will probably start 10+ games. That is a pretty smart and athletic group. Perkins is the leader, but Polk is an impressive physical specimen and can be an intimidator in the secondary. Orms is just good all around, and I believe he will be among the team leaders in almost every defensive category (yes, even sacks). Sandersfeld will get his chances, as might Terrel Smith, though I think they would rather redshirt him. There is a lot of potential at this position for the Buffs. With our great CB duo on the outside, these guys have a lot less field to cover. We should be much more solid at defending the deep pass this year, though teams may be able to exploit some mid-range stuff. Fortunately they still have a few weeks to work on that.

Beyond 2010:

We will get at least one more season out of the Perkins/Polk duo, then we will have to replace one of our steadiest and most experienced players on the defense. Orms might be the guy, or Terrel Smith. Either way, we look pretty good at Safety going forward. The Coaching staff will have to bring in another guy or two in the next class, but I have complete confidence that Ashley Ambrose will be just fine as a recruiter. Who wouldn't want to come learn from and play for a guy with a resume like that? He might be the best hire of the Hawkins era.


-What did I get wrong?

-What was your impression of our Offensive Tackles last season? What do you think/hope will change?

-What have you noticed (Spring scrimmage/Fall camp)?

-Where do these guys fit in recently or historically at CU? Will you remember any of them down the road?

-What's your impression of the coaching and recruiting at this position?

Positional Outlooks:

Running Back

Defensive Tackle

Inside Linebacker

Tight End

Defensive End

Wide Receiver

Outside Linebacker

If you have any questions or additional comments or insights, please feel free to email me at: