NORMAN — Oklahoma coaches are running a free safety experiment during two-a-days.
Nickel back Tony Jefferson is playing some free safety. Backup weakside linebacker Corey Nelson is playing several positions, including Jefferson's nickel back position.
"We're just seeing if this improves us any or gives us depth down the road," said coach Bob Stoops. "If you ever had to make a switch, they're familiar with the spots and they can go do it."
Quentin Carter, an All-American free safety last season, is now in the NFL.
Javon Harris, who had a solid spring, is listed as the starting free safety. Sam Proctor is the backup.
On the depth chart, Jefferson officially is listed as the starting strongside linebacker, which doubles as a nickel back.
Jefferson and Joseph Ibiloye are both getting looks at free safety. Nelson is even getting a few snaps at free safety.
"We'll just have to go through the test of time," said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "Fall camp will show us which players will be playing there. Of course, we're working guys like Corey at other positions, too."
When he recorded 65 tackles last season as a true freshman, displaying speed to cover receivers and strength to support the run, Jefferson drew comparisons to All-American Roy Williams.
Some might view moving Jefferson a risk, but Venables said the staff moved players such as Rocky Calmus and Teddy Lehman in the past.
"I could go down the list of a bunch of guys who were great players at their position that we moved to another position and have taken the risk of him being not so great," Venables said. "Free (safety) is a playmaking position for us.
"We rely on that guy in a number of different ways to show up and make 75 to 80 tackles, get a few interceptions and we'll also blitz that guy... It's an incredibly important position. It has to be as consistent a position as we have on our whole defense."
Nelson had as good a spring as any player on the roster. Venables and Stoops vowed to find ways to get Nelson on the field.
During two-a-days, Nelson is backing up Travis Lewis at weakside linebacker where he played last season. He's playing some middle linebacker behind Tom Wort in addition to strongside linebacker and free safety.
"It's worked out pretty well for me so far," Nelson said. "I'm enjoying it. I'm able to understand the concepts Coach V wants me to do within the defense."