Preseason position reviews: safety

August, 10, 2010
8/10/10
1:41
PM ET
Safety in the Pac-10 this year? Solid for the most part.

Only UCLA, Oregon State and Washington "officially" welcome back both of their starting safeties, with the Bruins boasting perhaps the best in free safety in the nation: Rahim Moore. Only Arizona State and USC must find two new safeties.

So how do things stack up?

Great shape
  • UCLA: Moore, a true junior and 25-game starter, led the nation with 10 interceptions in 2009 and is a consensus All-American. Tony Dye ranked fourth on the Bruins with 73 tackles.
  • Oregon: Sure, the Ducks lost hard-hitting T.J. Ward to the NFL, but Ward was hurt much of last season, so John Boyett, the first freshman to lead the Ducks in tackles, and Javes Lewis, who played both free safety and rover, are returning starters, as is Eddie Pleasant, a linebacker starter in 2009 who's moved to rover.
  • Oregon State: Lance Mitchell and Cameron Collins give the Beavers a solid, experienced combination and Suaesi Tuimaunei also has starting experience.
Good shape

  • Washington: Nathan Felner and Nate Williams are both returning starters, but the competition is ongoing among players with experience, not to mention touted incoming freshman Sean Parker.
  • Arizona: The Wildcats lost Cam Nelson, and Robert Golden might move back to cornerback after playing strong safety last year. Still, there's talent here. Adam Hall, a touted, 6-foot-4, 212-pound 2009 recruit, might make a move.
  • Arizona State: Both starters, Jarrell Holman and Ryan McFoy, are gone, but Clint Floyd and Keelan Johnson have started games and junior Eddie Elder has been surging since the spring.
  • California: While the Cal secondary didn't play well in 2009, Sean Cattouse is solid. Senior Chris Conte has converted to safety from cornerback, but he could be challenged in camp for the starting job.
  • Stanford: Strong safety Delano Howell should blossom as a junior, and Michael Thomas has potential at free safety. Still, the Cardinal secondary got burned in 2009 and is probably the team's biggest question mark.
We'll see
  • USC: The Trojans are replacing all four starters in their secondary, and the days of giving them a free pass based on recruiting rankings are over. Still, Jawanza Starling, T.J. McDonald and Drew McAllister (if he's healthy) are a talented trio.
  • Washington State: WSU lost free safety Xavier Hicks, but LeAndre Daniels, Chima Nwachukwu, Tyree Toomer, Casey Locker and Jamal Atofau give the Cougars hope at the position.

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