Commentary

Colvin's versatility key against Baylor

Sophomore will be tasked with covering receivers and tracking down Robert Griffin III

Updated: November 16, 2011, 11:47 PM ET
By Brandon Chatmon | SoonerNation

NORMAN, Okla. -- One word describes Oklahoma defensive back Aaron Colvin.

Versatile.

The sophomore has started games at cornerback and safety during his 22 games in crimson and cream, while becoming one of the top playmakers on the Sooners defense. Colvin ranks second on the team in tackles with 59, including a team-high 38 solo stops. Through nine games, he is averaging 7.38 tackles per game.

"I don't believe there's a position in the secondary he can't play," safety Sam Proctor said. "Aaron has all the skills you need as a defensive back."

[+] EnlargeMiles Onyegbule
Icon SMIOU's Aaron Colvin is excelling at safety and cornerback this season.
Colvin wasn't a highly-regarded national recruit when he stepped on campus at the University of Oklahoma. A three-star prospect from Owasso, Okla./Owasso, Colvin was arguably the most overlooked signee of the Sooners' 2010 class.

The versatile playmaker is an example of excellent evaluation by the Sooners coaching staff, as he's been a difference maker since his first semester in Norman.

He earned a start against Texas at cornerback and had 34 tackles during his freshman year, then was moved to safety last spring in an effort to get OU's top defensive backs on the field together.

Colvin has played both positions this season, often subbing in at cornerback when starter Jamell Fleming was sidelined with an injury against Texas Tech and Kansas State.

"I take a lot of pride in it," Colvin said of his versatility. "I feel like I can do a lot of things on the football field and being able to showcase it now, going from safety to corner, that's a compliment to me."

His ability to excel as an open-field tackler as a safety and hold his own in coverage as a cornerback makes Colvin a key asset when the Sooners face Baylor this weekend.

The Bears bring a unique challenge to a defense, with quarterback Robert Griffin III forcing defenses to account for his running ability while throwing to several talented playmakers at receiver including Kendall Wright, the Big 12's third leading receiver with 81 catches for 1,073 yards and nine touchdowns.

"Anytime you play an offense that is putting up 500 yards on everybody, you want to go out and show what you can do," Colvin said. "They have a great slot receiver in Kendall Wright.

"I know I'm going to have to come ready to play."

This weekend, Colvin might be asked to bring down Griffin in the open field on one play, then cover Wright on the next. Very few defensive backs in the Big 12 could handle both tasks with ease.

"He's going to be in a lot of stressful situations," defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "Because they attack you vertically. They make you tackle in space and make you cover in space with their athletic, explosive receivers. He's a guy who gives us some flexibility."

Spending his freshman year at cornerback has paid off for Colvin this season. He feels comfortable in coverage, even saying the cornerback position "feels natural to me," and has gotten more comfortable at safety heading into the Sooners final three games after playing timid during the first month of the season.

"It took a little while," Colvin said, noting that he didn't get comfortable at safety until the Red River Rivalry game against Texas. "Before I was playing a little tense, I didn't want to make mistake. Now I feel relaxed."

And he's playing some of his best football of the season with 25 tackles in the Sooners last three games. His strong play comes at the perfect time, with Iowa State and the Bedlam showdown with Oklahoma State looming after OU travels to Waco this weekend.

"He can cover, he's aggressive, he can tackle and above all he's very smart," Proctor said. "He's going to be a great player."

Brandon Chatmon covers University of Oklahoma sports and recruiting for SoonerNation. He can be reached at bchatmonespn@gmail.com.

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