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The Smith Duo: Battle for free safety

Former Alabama safety Landon Collins anchored the Crimson Tide’s defense last season. He totaled 103 tackles, seven pass breakups, three interceptions, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Free safety Nick Perry chimed in with his best season at Alabama in 2014. The fifth-year senior put in 80 stops, six pass breakups and two interceptions. Jarrick Williams fractured his foot in Alabama’s season opener against West Virginia, but managed to account for 14 tackles in 11 games. All three players are pursuing careers in the National Football League.

The Smith duo, Geno and Maurice, both return to Alabama’s secondary in 2015.

Geno Smith, a Georgia native, struggled early on last season, but found his game in Alabama’s meeting with LSU. Smith recorded four tackles in the Crimson Tide’s 20-13 victory over the Tigers. He began patterning his style after Landon Collins, and saw results in the next two games. Smith collected five stops in Alabama’s 25-20 win over No.1 Mississippi State.

His finest performance came against Auburn. Smith finished with 10 tackles, good for third on the team. He had five stops and a pass breakup in Alabama’s 42-13 win over Missouri in the 2014 Southeastern Conference title game. Smith finished the season with 56 tackles.

Maurice Smith, a Texas native, put in 10 tackles with seven solo stops last season. He recorded 0.5 sacks and a pass breakup in 14 games. Smith provided a spark as a true freshman in 2013. He appeared in 11 games, posting 13 tackles and three pass breakups.

Both players are experienced at cornerback and safety. Geno moved to safety in the summer of 2014, while Maurice played more as a nickelback last season. Both guys are 6’0” and roughly 200 pounds (Geno, 197 lbs., Maurice, 195 lbs.). Geno Smith excels in run support, but needs to improve his footwork against deep threat receivers.

Maurice Smith displays solid coverage skills, yet his recovery speed is a working progress. Alabama could feature true freshman Ronnie Harrison at strong safety, but he will need guidance in reading his keys on the field. One of the Smith boys will see field time as a free safety, but will it be Geno or Maurice?


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