The spring in State College brought about change in a number of spots, but none were more closely analyzed than the switch of receivers Trevor Williams and Malik Golden to the defensive side of the ball.
Williams moved to corner in the first week of spring ball.
Williams spent the final four weeks of practice at cornerback while Golden landed at safety for the entirety of spring ball.
"Both of them have progressed along," said new Defensive Coordinator John Butler. "We made those moves because we thought that both were individually good for the kids and then collectively good for our defense. I think that has proven to be true through the first 15 practices."
Combine those with a switch of returning starter Adrian Amos from cornerback to safety, and there were plenty of familiar faces in new places this spring. The changes went over so well that the new defensive coordinator expects to have them all back at the same spots for the fall.
"The changes that we made in the spring are going to be changes that we move forward with at the start of training camp next year," said Butler. "Injuries effect everything. I told the guys earlier that we're going to start the summer with Adrian as a safety, but if there are reasons that need us to move him back to corner, we're going to do that. But right now the guys that played safety in the spring game are the guys who are going to play safety next year and the guys who played corner in the spring game are going to play corner next year."
Butler said that both Williams and Golden accepted the changes and promptly jumped in with a different color jersey.
"It's hard [to change a player] if he's not open to it," explained Butler. "It's hard if he's not embracing the change and if he doesn't have the team mentality, it can be hard. Both of those guys saw that individually they could maybe have more of an impact at those positions, but they also realize that they trust us. Our players trust us, they realize that we're not going to do anything that is in bad interest, we're going to do what is in the best interest of them and the team.
"Because they have the trust in us, it's easier for them to make that move."
With a 65 scholarship limit coming into play next season, Butler's defense is looking to add athletes like Amos capable of playing more than one position if the need arises.
"When we're recruiting, really with an emphasis moving forward and for as long as we're here, we want players that are versatile," said Butler. "We want guys who can do multiple things. In his case, play corner, play safety, blitz, tackle, cover. There's not 500 Adrian Amoses out there that we can recruit, but that's what we're looking for.
"We're looking for guys at linebacker that can play the Sam, the Mike, the Will. Guys who can rush the passer, drop into coverage, play man-to-man on good tight ends like we have. They're multiple. We want defensive linemen that can be an end, be a tackle, be a six-technique, a nine-technique, drop in coverage. We ask them to do that, be a guy who can play linebacker in our 3-4 stuff.
"We want versatile players. We feel like he's one of them. We had a meeting with those versatile guys yesterday. There's 8-10 guys on this team that can have multiple roles and they've got to embrace that. We're not just going to line up in one front, one coverage. We're going to be systematically multiple, so that, while it's basic football we can still create some confusion and be disruptive as a defense."
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