Michigan's Troy Woolfolk settling in at cornerback
Troy Woolfolk finally has a home.
After bouncing between cornerback and safety most of his Michigan career - a backup cornerback as a sophomore, Woolfolk started the first five games at safety last year, the next six at corner, then returned to safety for the season finale against Ohio State - Woolfolk is playing cornerback this spring and for the foreseeable future.
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
He told Michigan’s official website last week he would prefer to play safety if given the choice, but said Tuesday he’s happy at corner.
“I don’t really care which one I play as long as I’m on the field doing some kind of impact,” Woolfolk said. “I have to fine-tune my technique (at cornerback) versus just being able to come down and make tackles, so have to get that down a little bit better so I can make an impact on the defense.”
Woolfolk’s impact last year was understated. He finished with 46 tackles and no interceptions, but was one of Michigan’s few reliable defensive backs.
He switched positions midseason out of necessity after starter Boubacar Cissoko was kicked off the team, and returned for his one-game cameo at safety when Mike Williams went down with an injury.
When junior Donovan Warren declared early for the NFL draft, it left Woolfolk as Michigan’s most experienced corner and cemented his spot on an island in Michigan’s secondary.
Woolfolk said there were positives and negatives to flip-flopping positions last year.
He’s still perfecting his footwork at cornerback and doesn’t have as much coverage experience as he would had he stayed at corner all year, but playing safety gave him a better understanding of where his help is in the defense, which allows him to be more aggressive with receivers.
“So it had about a neutral effect at the end of the day,” Woolfolk said.
While Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez left the door open last week for Woolfolk to return to safety if necessary - “Knowing the system and being a veteran guy, he’ll probably be able to play some safety as well,” Rodriguez said - that’s not in the plans for now.
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
With third-year sophomore J.T. Floyd off to a strong start this spring, redshirt freshman Justin Turner waiting in the wings and more help on the way from Michigan’s 2010 recruiting class, the Wolverines have the makings of a deep cornerback unit.
“J.T. Floyd had a good day Saturday,” Rodriguez said. “I think he’s a guy that we’re going to really push this spring and see if he can take the next step. He’s been in the program two years now and he’s a talented guy and I think he’s a guy that he knows this is his spring to prove it.
“Justin Turner is getting a lot of reps and he’s a talented guy that we hope can help, but J.T. Floyd is one in particular that we’re kind of putting the pressure on and so far he’s responded.”
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.