Throughout the month of August, LibertyFlames.com and the Flames Sports Network will be previewing each position on Liberty's football roster, concluding today with a look at Liberty's safeties.
Along with today's written preview about the safeties, FSN reporter Alan York had a chance to talk to Robert Wimberly, who returns for his second time as an assistant coach at Liberty and is in charge of Liberty's safeties.
Linebackers have been the backbone of Liberty's defensive unit for more than a decade, as the last non-linebacking player to lead the squad in tackles was Sammy Choice in 2000.
The streak came to an end in 2011 when two safeties finished the season as Liberty's top two tacklers.
One of the two returners at safety is junior Chris Mayo who looks to improve upon his team-leading 64 stop effort in 2011 (31 solo, 33 assisted). Mayo, who finished the season three tackles ahead of graduated senior Brandon Robinson, recorded two pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery at strong safety.
Expected to play opposite Mayo will be Jacob Hagen, who took advantage of his first year playing time in 2011. As a redshirt freshman, Hagen finished the year with 30 tackles (19 solo, 11 assisted) to go along with four pass breakups.
A third member of Liberty's safety group in 2012 will be making a position switch following head coach Turner Gill's adjustment to the overall defensive scheme.
Brent Vinson started all 11 games at the "adjuster" position for Liberty last season, recording 46 tackles (19 solo, 27 assisted) to push him over the 100-tackle threshold for his career.
However, just like Francis Bah on the defensive line, Vinson was forced to sit out the entire spring due to an injury and Gill will evaluate his talent level once he can take the field to practice in August.
Liberty will need to develop some depth at the safety position this year with Aaron Dial and Andrew Jauch next on the depth chart. Jauch played in all 11 games in 2011 and Dial three, with most of their work coming as part of the special teams unit.
Safeties at a Glance Front Runners Jacob Hagen (FS) (So., 6-3, 205) Chris Mayo (SS) (Jr., 5-11, 200) Brent Vinson (SS) (Sr., 6-0, 205)
Contenders Aaron Dial (Jr., 5-11, 195) Andrew Jauch (So., 6-0, 200)
Up-and-Comers Dashawn Goodwin (Jr., 6-0, 185) Miles Hunter (R-Fr., 5-10, 195) Nico Johnson (Fr., 5-8, 185) Tyler Rhyne (Fr., 5-10, 195) Charles Williams (Fr., 6-0, 190)
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