ANN ARBOR -- Courtney Avery confirmed that he is splitting time between cornerback and safety this fall camp.
Avery, who spent last season between cornerback and nickel, said he practiced at safety for the first time in his career at Michigan this past week and is lining up at “open safety,” which is geared towards the backend of the defense.
“It’s not bad,” Avery said. “I am liking it so far. Just anything I can do to help out the team.”
At 5-foot-11, 175-pounds, Avery’s move to safety may be a surprise for some, as sophomore Jared Wilson, who comes in at a bigger 6-foot-2, 200-pounds, was the expected favorite to win one of the starting safety spots along with returning senior starter Thomas Gordon.
“It’s just good to be versatile and good to be able to play numerous positions,” Avery said. “Last year I played nickel and some corner. Now I am playing corner and some safety.”
The position switch was a matter of depth issues said defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, citing the coaching staff didn’t want another situation where they lost a starter without a capable backup.
“In the back end we try to play guys at lot of different positions just for what happened in the Alabama game with Blake (Countess tearing his ACL,)” Mattison said. “So you’re always ready -- you’re always ready to put the next guy up.”
With Avery moving to safety, junior Raymon Taylor will most likely lock up one of the starting cornerback spots. Taylor said Avery is already adjusting and making the “calls” necessary at the back end of the defense.
“He’s flying around faster since he’s been there for a couple days,” Taylor said. “He’s making the calls. Since he played corner, it’s a little different than playing safety. But Courtney is doing a good job of communicating and just being a leader.”
Avery noted that he played more cornerback at the beginning of camp and has spent more time playing safety in recent days, and is willing to play whatever position necessary to get on the field this fall.
“It’s wherever the coaches want me and however much they want me on the field,” Avery said. “It’s up to them. I’m not worried about that. I am just worried about competing everyday and just giving it my all.
“I trust my coaches that they are going to put myself and the Michigan defense in the best position possible.”