Gophers junior linebacker James Manuel has used preseason work to navigate his way up the team's depth chart after being switched from safety to linebacker. It took him most of the offseason to get used to playing the position but, in the last week or so, Manuel has been taking reps with the first team.
He also appears comfortable with his new level of responsibility as a linebacker. Manuel is already used to being on the field, having played in all 12 games last season at safety, but says he is playing a lot faster now that he is getting the hang of playing linebacker.
Here's Gophers defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys on Manuel's adjustment, via 1500 ESPN:
"We ask our safeties to know what the linebacker and corner job is on every snap," Claeys said. "Moving into linebacker, once the secondary told him a leverage call he understood it because he had to learn it back there at safety.
"Right now anyone who is repping in the first two groups has to feel pretty good about themselves."