Texas Tech Fall Camp Position Battles: Free Safety

It appears the free safety spot is between Jah’Shawn Johnson and Payton Hendrix, let’s discuss and vote who you’d pick.

Tale of the Tape

Jah’Shawn Johnson vs. Payton Hendrix
5-10/179 Ht/Wt 6-2/203
4 Tackles RS
1 Interceptions RS

Staking The Plains Staff

Brian: I was incredibly excited about Hendrix when he signed in the 2014 class, and was happy he got a year to redshirt. While Johnson saw playing time last year and even notched an interception, he’s coming off an injury that kept him off the field for a majority of the season. With Gibbs placing emphasis on zone coverages and his safeties being able to watch the quarterback’s eyes, you have to love Hendrix’s ability to cover ground quickly. On top of this, Hendrix can absolutely hammer folks. I want receivers checking under their bed for Hendrix like they used to for Dwayne Slay. We also have an insane amount of depth at safety these days, so I’m all for giving him a shot to see what he can do against Sam Houston and UTEP. VERDICT: Hendrix

MeestahRogers: One of the comments I have been hearing lately about Gibbs evaluating the current depth on the defensive side was relating to how small the defensive backs were. Payton Hendrix, however, is not a small DB. I also can remember DB coach (at the time) Trey Haverty say that Hendrix had “SEC size.” With Gibbs’ background coaching DBs all over the country and in the NFL, I feel fairly confident he can get a RS Fr into game shape quickly, especially considering what we’ve heard about how his system is simple to pick up. Jah’Shawn Johnson has playing experience and would not make me nervous to see him come in for Hendrix, but I give the nod to Payton due to his size and what he was able to show on tape.  VERDICT: Hendrix

Seth: This seems like one of those where it should be the more highly rated prospect, but the coaches have been high on Johnson since he arrived. One thing to note is that Johnson received a redshirt year even though he played, registering just a handful of tackles and a pick before being lost for the year. With Johnson, I’ve thought that he seems undersized as a safety, but the coaches must really like his ability to cover ground at his size. And he’s probably a bit of a tweener in that he may not be fast enough to play cornerback (even though he has done that last year and I think even started) but not quite big enough to play safety. Not that 180 is small, but it seems that a lot of safeties are trending towards 200 pounds. With Hendrix, he was a huge get in the 2014 class and he was a 4-star type of player with big time range and prototypical size and speed that you want for your safety. I could actually see a bit of a situation where depending on the opponent, both players could play, with Hendrix getting more play with a more run oriented team and Johnson getting more play with a more passing oriented team. With the big 12 still trending a bit more as a passing conference, I’ll take Johnson, but having two freshmen safeties could mean good things for a pretty good while. VERDICT: Johnson



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