Josh Moten is listed as the starting safety for the Colorado football team on the first depth chart issued by the new coaching staff.
Those coaches have warned players and media members that the depth chart can and will change on a practice-by-practice basis for the time being and not to read too much into where any player stands at this point. But it's difficult not to do so with Moten considering he has never played safety before and it only took him eight practices to rise to the top spot at CU ahead of senior Parker Orms and sophomore Marques Mosley.
No one was more surprised to see Moten's name in the top spot than Moten.
"It's my first time playing safety and I'm learning so much and making a lot of mistakes, but I'm going full speed," Moten said. "You got to take it day-by-day."
Moten said coaches have told him they believe he has the potential and athleticism to be successful at the position. In his three previous seasons in Boulder, Moten said he never practiced at safety. He was always a cornerback even though he played two of those three years for former defensive coordinator and secondary coach Greg Brown, who liked to coach players to play both spots.
Moten said he is somewhat overwhelmed learning the position, but he's doing his best to know alignments and assignments and communicating with teammates before the snap.
"I've just got to be poised, keep my composure and be calm," he said.
Coach Mike MacIntyre said moving Moten to safety is an attempt to get more speed and ball skills on the field against a plethora of spread systems the Buffs will face in the fall. Coaches looked around the roster for guys who might be able to compete at the position. Moten was one of the first options.
"We felt like in today's football, one of your safeties better be able to cover like a corner because you play so much spread and there is so much vertical routes and that type of thing," MacIntyre said. "He's 198 pounds. He's a big corner. We feel like he's big enough to be a safety and he's bigger than some of our safeties. So we've looked at him there and we felt like he's doing a good job there."
Moten said having coach Charles Clark dedicated to safeties has been a big help in making the transition.
"Sometimes when I'm on the field and I've got so much going on in my brain, I kind of mental fart and it blanks," Moten said. "I look to the left and he's like, 'You got three.' or 'You got two.' or 'You look at this.' And it's like, OK, boom. It registers. I'm back on my job."
Freshman in the middle
True freshman middle lineback Addison Gillam is another surprise on the defensive side of the ball so far this spring.
Gillam has risen to the top spot at middle linebacker in the absence of junior Brady Daigh, who missed most of the first half of spring with an injury. Daigh is back on the field to give Gillam competition in the final six practices of spring drills.
Gillam joined the Buffs in January as a true freshman who greyshirted last fall. His committed to San Jose State in 2012 and planned to delay his enrollment there until this spring, but when the coaching staff was hired at CU, he contacted them and decided to follow them to Boulder.
"He's just big and athletic and he's really good," MacIntyre said. "In the first eight days of practice, he's done well."
Out of action
MacIntyre said defensive lineman De'Jon Wilson and tight end Vincent Hobbs both have been excused from practice for the time being to deal with personal issues. He said he doesn't know if either will be a part of the team next season, but he is giving both time to evaluate their situations and decide what is best for them.
Both players were part of the 2012 recruiting class. Hobbs played last season and Wilson redshirted.
"He's going through a lot of issues right now," MacIntyre said of Wilson. "I've kind of given him some time to think over what is going on with his situation. He's still a part of the team. He's just going through a lot of issues he needs to work through to see if he still wants to be on the team and he wants to play and all that. He has a lot of issues at home and things going on."
Hobbs father was hospitalized last fall after a fall that revealed a tumor on his spine. He has been paralyzed since September and only recently was able to leave the hospital.
More position changes
MacIntyre said he would likely try players at new positions this spring and he followed through on that Tuesday with sophomore Jeffrey Hall practicing as a wide receiver after playing last season as a defensive back. Sophomore Clay Jones was moved from linebacker to fullback.
MacIntyre said he approached Hall about moving to offense. He said Hall played receiver in high school and was fine with the switch.
"It was the first day out here today, and he looked pretty decent to me," MacIntyre said
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