Quandre Diggs on the move?

Junior defensive back could play multiple position for Longhorns in 2013

Updated: January 9, 2013, 12:12 AM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

AUSTIN, Texas -- When the final game began, Quandre Diggs, despite a position shift in practice, was right where he had always been -- at cornerback.

That doesn't mean when the first game begins in 2013 that Diggs will still be there.

[+] EnlargeQuandre Diggs
AP Photo/Reed HoffmannDefensive back Quandre Diggs, who has eight interceptions in two seasons at Texas, could see more time at safety in 2013.
"You're losing that toughness that Kenny Vaccaro brings and that confidence and leadership," Texas coach Mack Brown said in December. "So who will be the guy to step in there and to help that?"

Quite possibly, it will be Diggs, who spent at least part of every one of Texas' 13 bowl practices at safety. It's the logical move. Diggs will be the best tackler in the secondary on a team that has tremendous problems with that fundamental aspect of the game. And Vaccaro was the team's leading tackler in 2012, so the Longhorns are losing those 104 stops.

Diggs is also poised to be the best leader on the defense. The other players respect Diggs because of his talent but also because of his choice of words and the emotion they carry. On a defense that is going to be searching for anyone to step up and hold players accountable, Diggs is the only viable option.

As the defense failed time and again for Texas in 2012, it was forced to shift Vaccaro into various spots to help shore up the deficiencies. The same might occur for Diggs, as Texas will again try to get its best player in a position to make the most plays.

Vaccaro would take the slot receiver like he did against West Virginia, when he allowed Tavon Austin only one substantial catch once the two were paired. He would be asked to play rover, swinging from side to side, plugging holes, like he did in the second half against Kansas, limiting the Jayhawks to 90 yards in the final 30 minutes.

It wasn't ideal. But it allowed Vaccaro to showcase his versatility and move up in the NFL draft, which is really why he came back for his senior season anyway.

Diggs isn't a player likely to come back for his senior season. His first two years have been too prolific, and he has already proved he can be a cover corner. Plus he has a brother, Quentin Jammer, who knows economics of the NFL vs. the lack of equitable economics in college football.

If 2013 is to be Diggs' last season in burnt orange, Texas should maximize his potential in order to minimize the impact of losing Vaccaro. The best way to do that could be to have Diggs play a larger role as a safety.

Of course, that leaves his former role at cornerback vacant. Brown believes Texas is deeper at that position and can better afford to move Diggs, rather than suffer through another season of watching Mykkele Thompson, Josh Turner and Adrian Phillips struggle at safety.

Turner and Phillips can both play cornerback and, in fact, are both better suited for that position. Neither showed the consistent acumen necessary for taking the correct angle on a runner and taking him down in the open field, as a safety is required to do. But both have solid cover skills and a comfort level at that spot.

Thompson's home is at safety. But he still needs a shoulder like Diggs' to lean on. Sheroid Evans isn't a viable possibility at safety just yet, and Texas commitment Erik Huhn (Cibolo, Texas/Steele) will most likely redshirt.

Duke Thomas and Bryson Echols are the other two cornerbacks who allow for the flexibility of moving Diggs safety. Thomas enrolled early and, if needed, could have played significant minutes as a true freshman. Echols took a redshirt year and still lacks the physical frame for a 60-minute game, but he has eight months to gain the necessary strength.

Texas does have Antwuan Davis (Bastrop, Texas/Bastrop) committed as a cornerback, but unless he splashes onto the scene like Diggs did as a true freshman, there doesn't seem to be a need to rush him onto the field. Same goes for Chevoski Collins (Livingston, Texas/Livingston).

So, as the Longhorns move through spring, Diggs should continue to get more reps at safety, because in the next game he might actually line up there.

Carter Strickland | email

Reporter, HornsNation

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