Change is the only constant in life. No matter what we do to prevent it or prepare for it, change is certain to occur. When a player is asked or instructed to change positions, his career trajectory can be set in a new direction. The Miami fan base has seen examples of this recently: Dallas Crawford moved from running back to safety before his junior season, and Standish Dobard switched from tight end to defensive lineman in 2017.
Position changes are not uncommon in college football, especially since these athletes, once they graduate from high school, are generally defined as football players and not by the specific role they played on their high school team; as a result, it is up to the player and their college team to decide which role they’ll fill every Saturday in the fall. While college coaching staffs usually have an idea of where a player will fit, they often must fight the player, the player’s family, or even the high school coach on this decision.
If you thought the battle to become a starter can be intense, the fight to line up at a preferred position can be just as fierce. What are some reasons behind a position switch? Answers range from providing support at a position lacking healthy bodies to players looking to gain more playing time.
Here are some players who will be making a position change in 2017:
Sheldrick Redwine (cornerback to safety)
Listed as a defensive back, Redwine moved from cornerback to safety this spring. At the request of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, Redwine will return to roaming the deep part of the field for the first time since seeing spot duty at Miami Killian HS when his current roommate, Jaquan Johnson, went down with an injury.
Although Redwine has been a starter at CB a handful of times in 2016, there is more competition entering this summer camp than there was a season ago. With CB Michael Jackson and CB Malek Young putting together a strong showing in the spring, as well as the impending arrivals of Jhavonte Dean, Trajan Bandy, and Dee Delaney, Redwine’s versatility may be best served filling the void at safety. At six foot one and 195 pounds, Redwine has the ideal length of a NFL cornerback and the aggression to make a tackle in the run game. With the experience from his previous two seasons working as a cornerback and his bond with Jaquan Johnson, Redwine has a firm grasp of what’s required from the secondary and could be a key player for this Miami team.
Pat Bethel (defensive end to defensive tackle)
Rushing the passer from the edge, as opposed to the interior, does not sound like a drastic change, yet the subtleties do make the job a bit different. Bethel was moved inside this spring, adding to the riches of Miami’s defensive line rotation. In order to change from an edge rusher to a stout interior presence, Bethel will need to make some adjustments to his play in his new role.
He began addressing the first of these adjustments at the end of the 2016 season by putting on the necessary weight to handle the battles in the trenches. Coming to Miami as a six-foot-three, 249-pound strongside defensive end, Bethel has now worked his way up to 272 pounds, with coach Kuligowski indicating that he has the frame to add more weight before the 2017 season. Along with adding bulk, Bethel will need to adjust to lining up across from guards, as opposed to the usually more athletic offensive tackles. With his experience as a strong-side defensive end, Bethel should be able to handle the double teams and reaches, even when dealing with a heftier opponent in the interior.
There are some different keys that he will have to watch out for. Even in this new role in Manny Diaz’s defense, the tasks still remain the same: can he collapse the pocket to create chaos in the pocket, will he be able to hold his ground against the interior, and (of course) can he win his matchup on a consistent basis?
DeeJay Dallas (high school QB to college WR)
The Hurricanes have a history of athletes who were talented enough to excel at multiple positions. Devin Hester was not just a standout kick/punt returner at UM; he also played wide receiver and cornerback. It’s difficult to make the comparison before he’s played a single game, yet DeeJay Dallas has the opportunity to line up at various positions in his first year as a Hurricane.
He played as a quarterback at Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Georgia and as a WR in spring practices at UM. Due to this adaptability, Dallas could potentially play in every position but kicker for Miami. That’s a lot of responsibility even for a freshman who is incredibly versatile, as he will need to grasp both the offensive and defensive schemes to have a chance of playing both ways. While Dallas had highlight-reel-worthy plays as a WR this spring, some fans believe he should play DB as his career progresses. Dallas could be a chameleon for the Hurricanes as his collegiate career moves forward.
Trevor Darling (tackle to guard)
Some players are used to being nomadic, often having to flip-flop between a couple of positions based on need or quality of play. Trevor Darling started a majority of the past two seasons at left tackle. A segment of the fan base view Darling’s ability in previous seasons to protect the blindside of Brad Kaaya as an overly ambitious endeavor. Others counter that he was one part of an offensive line group that did not have a consistent lineup for various reasons.
Looking toward summer camp, Darling will attempt to make the move to guard. At six foot four and 300 pounds, he seems to be an ideal interior blocker. Offensive line coach Stacy Searels should get his answer at how well Darling transitions during practices, especially when the senior goes one-on-one with Kendrick Norton, RJ McIntosh, and the aforementioned Pat Bethel.
Navaughn Donaldson (HS tackle to college guard)
After spring practices it appears that Donaldson will begin his collegiate career as a guard, he’ll eventually move to tackle, the position he played in high school.
Is there someone we left off the list? We would love to hear your thoughts on which players you would like to see change position. Let us know in the comment section!