I've seen so many negative comments about converted safeties at linebacker over the last few months that I just wanted to get some points out there for people that are buying into this.
1. Many teams play kids at LB that played safety in high school. This is normal and not an exception. We are not off on some weird island as the only team that came up with this idea. Many times it is just because the kid is growing and he outgrows the position. Sometimes it is because on his team he is probably the fastest player on the team and they put him at safety to take advantage of his athleticism even though it may not be his best position. This has always happened, but it got notoriety in the 80's when Miami had great defenses and they embraced this concept to get the most speed on the field. LB's to Dline, Safeties to LB, etc.. Many teams followed suit after repeated failures against the Canes, most prominently was Nebraska who dominated the 90's with their defense that had many converted safeties playing lb.
2. We all know Brian's mantra that a position switch is bad and I agree that for the most part that is true, but a kid is not converting from anything when he comes from high school to college. If he switches after being on campus for 2 years then that is a bad sign, but not coming from high school. He is being recruited for a position or multiple positions when he comes to a school. B. Hawthorne and M. Jones did not show up on campus thinking they were playing defensive end and safety because that is where they played in high school. They came in under the assumption they were going to play lb. Some players are given the chance to compete for a position they like , but my guess is 8/10 they end up switching to the position the coach had envisioned for them in the 1st place.
3. We have little or no idea on what these kids are truly good at. Everyone immediately labels a kid because of his size when we have no idea what he is good at or how he plays. T. Mays probably weighs more than everyone of our linebackers. Levon Kirkland used to weigh more than his lineman back in the day. Let the coaches figure out what position the kid is best at.
In closing I would just like the people that don't like these conversions to take a step back and know that Mich has been very successful with these switches in the past. B. Graham was a linebacker when he came in, S. Breaston was a QB in high school, J. Riemersma was a QB in high school, P. Burgess was a safety and the list goes on. Do I have any idea if Hawthorne, Bell, Jones, Robinson, Gordon, Furman etc... will be good LB's?? No, I have no idea, but let's give them some time, maybe the coaches know what they are doing and we'll have the next B. Urlacher. He's 1 safety that turned out ok at LB.