Hens’ Adderley likes move to safety

 

NEWARK — There’s a problem with being a good cornerback.

Teams can avoid you if they want by simply throwing the ball to the other side of the field.

Or, as Nasir Adderley points out, opposing offenses can send your receiver on a deep route and then just run the ball.

“It was frustrating at times,” said Adderley.

Junior Nasir Adderley has started 22 straight games at cornerback for the Blue Hens. Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell

But first-year Delaware coach Danny Rocco and his staff found a way to get around that problem in Adderley’s case.

They simply moved the highly-regarded junior from cornerback to free safety, where he’s slated to start for the Blue Hens this season.

“It’s probably a position that will get him more involved in the action,” said Rocco. “Sometimes at corner, you’re isolated but you’re not always in the game.

“There’s a higher probability that, where we have him, keeps him pretty much in the flow of the game and allows him more opportunities to make plays to change the outcome of the game.”

That’s fine with Adderley, who has started all 22 games of his college career. He moved to safety in spring practice.

If there’s a drawback to the switch, it’s that Adderley is built more like a cornerback. He’s listed at 6-foot, 190 pounds.

But Adderley said he’s not worried about being a little undersized. He’s been in on 100 tackles – including a career high 11 in one game — with 14 pass breakups and two interceptions in his career.

“I’ve got faith in myself,” said Adderley. “I just like to hit — I like being physical. That’s always been a part of my game.

“I’ve been taking on guards and I’ve been holding my own.”

“He’s athletic, he’s explosive,” said Rocco.

For the past couple seasons, Adderley has been considered one of Delaware’s top athletes. He’s also slated to return kicks and punts this fall.

And he’s the cousin of Pro Football Hall of Famer Herb Adderley, who was also a defensive back.

At safety, Adderley expects to be more involved in Delaware’s defense. Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell

Adderley is the first to admit he’s still got a lot of room to improve, though.

“I’m always learning,” he said. “I’m always trying to find ways I can pick up my game. I criticize myself pretty hard. I’m a perfectionist.”

But now, as a safety, the Hens hope Adderley gets even more of a chance to show what he can do.

Adderley said he already feels it’s more of a natural position for him.

“It was my original position before I came here,” he said. “I’ve got more freedom. I just like being back there, roaming around.

“I can be aggressive and just help out everywhere. I just like being in the middle of the field and seeing the whole picture. … I look at it is I’ve got to be the quarterback of the defense.”

Creating a winning attitude

Rocco said he thinks the Hens have their share of physical talent as they work through preseason camp.

But, as Delaware tries to bounce back from two straight 4-7 seasons, he said it’s going to take more than that.

“Expectations and standards have to be realigned,” said Rocco. “We’re working really hard here in camp to change those expectations and offer a little more consistency with our daily preparation.

“Just consistency of work ethic and consistency of toughness,” he added. “Those are some things that I have been communicating on a regular basis. I think there’s a reality that physical toughness is different than mental toughness. I think we’ve got to be a mentally tougher organization and football team.

“I think we’ve got the physicality we need to have to play at a very, very high level. I think it’s your mental toughness that allows you to sustain that level of physicality and allows you to deal with adversity.”

Extra points

Delaware is slated to practice with officials on Saturday morning. The session is at the usual 8:45-11 a.m. time slot. … Maryland transfer Nick Pritchard, who was the Terps’ starting punter as a freshman in 2015, is competing for the starting job with Delaware. He averaged 38.2 yards per kick, including three punts of 50 yards or longer in a game at No. 1 Ohio State.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

 

 

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