Following up on the cornerbacks yesterday, the safety crop for the Eagles could be something special. The group returns plenty of experience and a new key contributor enters the fold. A couple of the younger players could also find themselves transitioning to more of a safety role, but for now these five are the main names to watch this coming season.
Deon Jones, the recipient of the Jay McGillis Scholarship at the Spring Grame, made an immediate impact in his first season. After transferring from Maryland, Jones tallied 42 tackles, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, and a tackle for loss. His season ended at nine games after a knee injury, but his impact on and off the field is unquestioned. It’s unclear when he will fully return, but he will look to assume the same role at that time.
Mike Palmer is back for one last rodeo. We’ve seen the New York native for the better part of four season now and know his abilities. Palmer’s season was also unfortunately cut short from a leg injury after seven games. He started four games at free safety this past year and had a game changing interception near-return touchdown against Texas State. As with much of the rest of the group, Palmer brings great experience and leadership. He played well in the new system and will look to end his career on the Heights on a high note.
Jaiden Lars-Woodbey is the new name to key in on. The redshirt junior comes to us from Florida State and has two years of eligibility remaining. The California native was a highly touted recruit who was selected as a Freshman All-American. His sophomore season was cut short by injury, but he began to get back into the fold last year in a slightly different capacity. Lars-Woodbey has already proven to be a vocal leader on the team. He figures to bring more physicality to the safety role.
Jahmin Muse returns after starting 11 games last year. The redshirt senior recorded 38 tackles, three interceptions, one forced fumble, and one tackle for loss. He’s gradually earned more playing time and this year led the team in interceptions. He excelled in a safety/linebacker role, and both he and Lars-Woodbey should occupy similar spaces this season.
Connor Grieco is a redshirt sophomore from New Jersey who came in as the number one rated safety in the state. Grieco played in only the final two games last season after returning from injury. When he arrived as a freshman, Grieco started immediately before the injuries appeared. He’ll have a great shot at playing a more active role this season in full form.