Justin Garrett: Star power (Todd Van Emst photo)
April 18, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN — Justin Garrett may be on his way to living up to the name of the position he plays.
"Star" is the new hybrid safety spot at Auburn, and the junior has easily been the most talked about player among teammates and coaches this spring. It's been an awakening for the one-time linebacker who has 21 career tackles.
"It's been a good feeling, just to actually hear my name being said," Garrett said. "But I know deep down inside I have a lot of stuff I need to work on before I consider myself that type of player. I've got a lot of stuff I've got to correct before I can take on that stage before the season starts."
The star safety has to have good speed, which Garrett has. And he has to be willing to hit. Garrett will be looking to do just that in Saturday's 1 p.m. A-Day Game in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"I really didn't feel as comfortable at linebacker, but now I feel a lot more comfortable in what I'm doing," Garrett said. "I just feel like I'm just playing like myself and how I played in high school."
Auburn moved the 6-foot-1, 214-pound Garrett to the safety spot before spring practice began. It was a good move.
"I feel like this is the perfect system for my body type and the way I play," he said. Garrett said he likes the position because it allows him to "roam around and make plays, and I'm blitzing and covering. The offense never knows what I'm going to do.
"Depending on what the offense does, it depends on my job. So I just have to be able to do multiple things. Play some linebacker, safety, sometimes play as a corner out in space. And play some defensive end sometimes."
But Garrett says Ellis Johnson's new defense -- or at least new to Auburn -- is "simpler and easier" to learn.
"Everybody gets the call and everybody looks to the sideline for the call. Everybody's playing fast. It's a lot easier and not as much thinking as a defense from last year," Garrett said.
That doesn't mean the star position doesn't have challenges.
"The most difficult part is probably covering the slot wide receiver. And tackling in open space," Garrett said. "But I don't think about that when I'm on the football field."
Robenson Therezie has received a look at the new position, too.
But Garrett has received the most favorable reviews.
"I know I have a long way to go…a lot of room for improvement, but I've got off to a good start," he said.
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