Starting strong safety—Sam Proctor—Proctor was set to be a huge contributor, a starter, earlier in his career, but he said mentally he didn't focus on the things he needed to take care of as spring carried over into summer a couple years ago, such as attention to detail. And that ultimately cost him a starting spot, but he did land a starting role last year and finished with 44 tackles and two passes broken up. The one thing that can be taken away from all this is that he has grown from everything he's been through so far. That typically translates into better on-the-field performance, so expect a good year from Proctor in 2010.
Backup strong safety—Joseph Ibiloye—The reserve here, Ibiloye, is a multi-dimensional player that went to the linebacker position before the beginning of the 2009 season. Now, he's listed behind Proctor on the depth chart at the safety position, and he proved in the Spring Game that he's capable of making some plays. Ibiloye progressed in his safety role this spring and even had a couple of sacks for a loss of 11 yards in the Spring Game.
Starting free safety—Quinton Carter—Easily the most experienced player in the entire secondary, Carter tied fellow defensive back Brian Jackson for the team lead in interceptions a year ago. He also had the second most tackles at 88 next to linebacker Travis Lewis, who racked up 109. Carter had 10 tackles in games against Brigham Young and Texas Tech and finished off the year with eight tackles and a pick in the Sun Bowl against Stanford, all of this contributing to a stat of seven or more tackles in eight games during 2009. This performance carried over into the spring, where he worked on improving his technique. And he did just that. In the Spring Game, fans had the opportunity to witness that when he picked off a pass and returned it 23 yards and also took part on 5.5 tackles.
Backup free safety—Marcus Trice—OU head coach Bob Stoops continually emphasized throughout the spring that working a player at corner or safety is really not that much different, and Trice was one of those guys he was referring to. Stoops is only concerned about getting the top five or six guys on the field, and Trice is certainly in that mix. He didn't have an outstanding Spring Game performance, but he did record a couple of tackles. The outlook is positive on him as well.
1. In great shape
2. Probably in good shape
4. Not in good shape at all