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Position Previews: Safeties

Our Countdown to Kickoff continues today as we close out the defense by looking at our safeties.

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

Countdown to Kickoff: 20 Days...

Departed Players

Fred Holton (dismissed from team)

Depth Chart Speculation
First String Second String Third String
Isaiah Johnson (Sr) Jamal Golden (Jr) John Marvin (Fr)
Coray Carlson (R-Jr)
Chris Milton (R-So) Demond Smith (R-So) Corey Griffin (Fr)

Combined with the cornerbacks, the secondary will be one of the deepest units on the team. The entirety of the first two strings are guys who are in their third season of college football, in some sense or another. Combine that experience with the talent we'll see there, and there's nothing to worry about with this group.

Isaiah Johnson has been injured and missed the scrimmage as recently as yesterday, and there has yet to be an indication of when he'll return. However, he's backed by Jamal Golden, who we all know a lot about by now. What you may not realize, though, is that as good of a return man as he is, he's also a really solid safety. He played there in the Sun Bowl while Isaiah Johnson was out, and started the first 5 games of the season there. He's an effective "center fielder" of sorts, and definitely a playmaker. Behind him are former walk-on Coray Carlson and freshman John Marvin. Carlson has been a hard worker for the team but has never really made much impact, likely due to being buried behind Johnson his entire career. Marvin is a highly talented kid that the coaches are really excited for, but will likely redshirt unless he sees time on special teams or there's an injury where they'd like him to fill a gap.

There's been some speculation that Milton might have passed up Holton on the depth chart anyways.

At strong safety, probably the biggest loss this team has had since summer began will be Fred Holton. Holton was highly touted at strong safety even though he never had much of an opportunity to shine between two debilitating injuries. Chris Milton will take over for him after getting the start for the Sun Bowl and really laying some lumber. (I'm too lazy to go find the video, but I remember at least two big hits he made.) There's also been some speculation that Milton might have passed up Holton on the depth chart anyways, which can only be good news given the fact that he'll be starting there this year. Milton is backed up by his "pledge brother" Demond Smith, a solid defender but a guy who would appear quite a bit behind Milton in terms of posing a threat to pass him on the depth chart. (To that point, perhaps the worst part of Holton's departure from the team is that it takes away a layer of depth from the position.) Finally there's the freshman Corey Griffin, who probably will redshirt unless, again, there's an injury that makes his services a requirement.

One thing to watch going forward will be whether or not John Marvin sticks around at free safety. Knowing his skillset and tendencies from high school, if he can add a few more pounds (currently listed at 190) he could be a really good candidate to play strong safety and add depth there. Complete speculation though, that may not ever even be a consideration.


Strong unit here, with the biggest concern (as with a lot of units right now) being depth. If Isaiah Johnson can't play at the beginning of the season and Jamal Golden gets a little winded, who takes over at free safety? If Chris Milton needs to leave a game early with an injury, can Demond Smith provide a solid backup? Time will tell, but ideally it won't become an issue.

Is depth truly an issue here, or can these guys all play with the big boys? How hard will Fred Holton's departure be on this group? Should Lynn Griffin or Domonique Noble hop in here instead of their switch to cornerback?