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Safety a Golden opportunity

Citizen Staff Writer



Arizona’s Robert Golden was recruited as a lock-down corner, but he’s been switched to being a hard-hitting safety.

The sophomore, the football program’s highest-rated prospect in the 2008 recruiting class, has switched due to depth at corner and Golden’s love of hitting.

“I’m going to go out there and be physical like I always do,” Golden said about his first day at the position during opening spring drills on Wednesday. “I’m going to try to bring it.”

Also on Wednesday, UA coach Mike Stoops said a handful of players have left the team, including backup tailback Xavier Smith, a Sunnyside High grad.

Golden, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound former PrepStar All-American, played sparingly a year ago on defense and special teams coverage.

The Wildcats lost senior cornerback Marquis Hundley, but Trevin Wade appears set to move into that spot.

That left Golden competing with Michael Turner and Marcus Benjamin for backup duty before making the switch.

Golden will assume the duties of strong safety Nate Ness, who was among the captains before graduating.

The physical work Golden could provide is not in doubt at safety, which means nearly 80 percent of the time aiding on run support. The rougher adjustment might be the mental transition.

“Corner is an easy position to learn, but difficult to play,” UA coach Mike Stoops said. “Safety is easier physically, but a harder position to learn. There is a lot of movement in offenses so there is adjustment and mental pressure that go along with safety.”

Golden says he’s ready.

“I played a little safety in high school. I have to adapt to the position in college and see how it goes,” he said. “I knew there were going to be some changes.”

Smith, who would have been a senior next season, rushed for 153 yards and five touchdowns last season for the Wildcats.

Other Wildcats leaving the team, Stoops said, were tailback Terry Longbons, defensive tackle Hans Philipp and receiver Terrell Reese.

Reese, a sophomore last year, was suspended a couple of times a year ago after DUI charges and failure to meet team rules.

Sabino tailback/defensive back Glyndon Bolasky, who will be a junior, is on a medical scholarship with a back injury.

Arizona is trying to fill the vacancy left by Eben Britton’s early departure to the NFL draft, with Phillip Garcia and Jack Julsing getting the first looks at left tackle.

Meanwhile, a replacement for receivers coach Michael Smith is under way after his departure to Kansas State.

Former UA cornerback Antoine Cason, now with the San Diego Chargers, and incoming freshman Adam Hall (Palo Verde High) were at UA’s first practice.


What: 15 workouts.

When: Through April 8

Public scrimmages: March 28 and April 4 (Spring Game) at Arizona Stadium

2009 season tickets: 621-2287

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