NORMAN — Near the end of Oklahoma's winter conditioning, secondary coach Willie Martinez informed Aaron Colvin he'd be moving from cornerback to safety for the spring.
“At first, I was a little worried,” Colvin admitted. “Like ‘Can I do it? Am I big enough?'
“But he told me he was confident I could do it.”
Two practices in, the Colvin-to-safety experiment couldn't be going better.
“He's looked really good,” coach Bob Stoops said Wednesday, following OU's second practice of the spring. “He's a great athlete, hustling around. He's really smart, and that position requires that.
“He's going to be really good there.”
On a team that returns 15 starters, the Sooner defensive backfield essentially is the only position group in flux. Safeties Quinton Carter and Jonathan Nelson have graduated, and All-Big 12 cornerback Jamell Fleming currently is not enrolled at OU as he works through academic issues.
But even with cornerback Demontre Hurst being the lone returning starter on campus, the Sooners remain optimistic about the secondary, thanks in large part to Colvin's so far seamless switch to safety.
“I believe it's going to be great for us,” Stoops said. “That position, the way the strong safety plays in today's world, the guy has to have corner-like ability, to be able to run and change direction because of the nature of so many spread-out teams. ... and a lot of times, even if he's playing zone and gets some underneath coverage, anything down the middle of the field, he's in a man position against a speed receiver, a slot receiver.”
The Sooners recently had success with a similar transformation. Nelson, originally a corner, was moved to safety his junior year. By midseason, Nelson was OU's starting strong safety, a position he held for the rest of his college career.
“I saw (it can be done) with my own eyes,” Colvin aid.
But Colvin, who had a phenomenal freshman campaign as OU's No. 3 corner last season, realizes this transition will require work. Both physically and mentally. He's working to put on weight, but already he's up 10 pounds since last season, and is only seven pounds away from his goal of weighing 192.
“I also need to be more of a film room rat,” Colvin said. “Right now, I'm just getting a groove, getting a feel.
“But if I stay focused, I'll get it down.”
Lynn off to good start
NORMAN — Aaron Colvin's replacement at cornerback, sophomore Gabe Lynn, has also had a good start to the spring.
“He's done well,” coach Bob Stoops said after Wednesday's practice. “Gabe's had a couple of really good days, and I'm really excited about the way he's playing right away, too.”
Lynn, a former No. 1 instate recruit, redshirted in 2009 and played sparingly last year. Now, with Colvin moving to safety and Jamell Fleming currently not in school, Lynn is getting his chance.
“I'm real excited,” he said. “I hope Jamell can get back, but either way, I'm gonna go compete and try to earn a spot on the depth chart somewhere.”