Trent Gordon Smoothly Navigating Position Change Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
When Penn State football’s Trent Gordon switched from cornerback to safety this winter, he certainly didn’t anticipate how much the world would change in the coming months.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic erasing spring ball and altering summer workouts, the redshirt sophomore is now doing all he can to adapt to his new role in the secondary.
The Manvel, Texas native actually played safety throughout high school, earning a three-star recruiting rating among other accolades at Manvel High. But playing the position at the collegiate level is different — especially when your team hasn’t practiced in more than seven months.
“I’m just proving to Coach [Tim] Banks that I know what I’m doing without actually being on the field,” Gordon told the media over Zoom on Thursday. “I have to keep my head on a swivel pretty much in the classroom, like in our football meetings.”
Gordon also said he’s been practicing in State College with some teammates to stay fit and work on footwork. The transition has gone smoothly for him so far, and he doesn’t anticipate running into issues “anytime soon.”
Gordon appeared in 10 games as a redshirt freshman, racking up 20 total tackles — including a career-high five during the Cotton Bowl — and five pass deflections at cornerback. Gordon said playing corner was a great “learning experience” for him, especially for his developing field vision.
“It taught me where my eyes should be, it helped me with eye discipline,” he said. “It helped me further my knowledge as a safety, and take that with me. So what I could see at corner, I can now see at safety pretty much.”
Gordon also explained playing at corner forced him to know where everyone on the field was, rather than simply surveying the play from the safety position. Needing to “dissect and learn” the role of every player on both sides of the ball has given him a better understanding of the defense as a whole.
He’s excited to apply this new skill and insight to the safety position just two years removed from starting there in high school.
“I’m very very comfortable,” Gordon said. “Now I can be more physical, now I can play a lot more fast because I can see everything more clearly…that kind of enhances my skill set.”
This new physicality also comes with a requirement for more muscle and more mass on Gordon’s end. As a corner weighing 185 pounds, he rarely would need to tackle a halfback or go toe-to-toe with an offensive lineman. Since switching to safety, he’s reached a healthy 202 pounds with help from the team’s nutritionist.
A new diet chock-full of different kinds of pasta and fish has helped him add and maintain weight. Gordon is making many of the necessary adjustments with ease, but he still has a ways to go. He sat third on Penn State’s spring depth chart, behind Lamont Wade and Tyler Rudolph at free safety.
Gordon will need to showcase his skillset at safety quickly when practices start back up and prove he can excel in the deep secondary. Vying for a higher spot in the safety rotation will certainly be a challenge for him, but it seems he’s prepared for anything.
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