When you look at the Pittsburgh Steelers depth chart at the safety position, it doesn't scream of definitive play makers. Mike Mitchell has seemingly locked down a starting role in the team's back end, but the position vacated by retired safety Troy Polamalu is essentially up for grabs. Shamarko Thomas seems to be the horse leading the race to enter training camp as the starter, but veteran Will Allen has proven his worth on more than one occasion.
One player people might not be thinking too much about is rookie safety Gerod Holliman. Holliman set the NCAA record in 2014 with 14 interceptions, and he isn't about to take a 'wait-and-see' approach to playing time in 2015.
"I just want to go out and work hard and earn a starting position and establish my ground right now coming in as a rookie." Holliman told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.
Holliman isn't the typical safety which parols the deep secondary for the Steelers. A team known for physical players who are willing to do their part in run support and are sound tacklers, Holliman is a pure ball hawk, and he models his game after one of the best ball hawks to ever put on a NFL uniform - Ed Reed.
"We have the same style of play and he is known for intercepting the ball. Throughout my career I have been blessed to be in position to make plays on the ball." Holliman said.
As Holliman and the team prepare for training camp, he will have to prove he can handle the physicality of the NFL, as well as make plays if he wants to contribute on the team as a rookie. Some might even wonder if a player like Holliman should worry about making the roster, and not just making the team.
Ironically, Holliman has found guidance in Shamarko Thomas, the player he would likely replace if he were able to win a starting spot on the team's defense as a rookie.
"Right now I am going under Shamarko Thomas' wing. He is a veteran here. We play the same position and I am looking up to him. His first day here he came to me and talked to me and gave me insight on stuff. I feel comfortable talking to him." Holliman said.
Whether Holliman is able to make the team's 53-man roster will be decided sooner rather than later, as the team reports to training camp on July 25th. The battle about to ensue at the safety position will certainly be one to watch.