“You are either getting better or you are getting worse; you never stay the same.”

This phrase is posted out on Dan Elliott practice field, just a few feet away from where the Stanford Cardinal held their first full scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday.

But it is something that sticks with Stanford safety Dallas Lloyd every day.

“Everyday I just come out and try to get better; try to get better at backpedaling, breaking, tackling, communicating the coverages, reading the offenses. There are a lot of things that go into playing defensive back.”

Lloyd, who was recruited out of Pleasant Grove High School in Utah as a quarterback now finds himself using his unique skill of avoiding opposing safeties to his advantage on the other side of the ball.

“As a quarterback now playing safety, it’s interesting because as QB you want to locate the safeties and now I’m one of the safeties which absolutely gives me an edge with disguising coverages and stuff like that.”

The 6-foot-3 junior signed with Stanford in 2010 before spending two years on a church mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Chile. He did not see action as a freshman but played in seven games his second year, recording six rushes for 26 yards. Head coach David Shaw liked to use Lloyd’s mobility in a specially designed read-option package.

Lloyd was a 2010 PrepStar All-American and Scout’s top dual-threat in the West. But Stanford is known as a quarterback Farm since Andrew Luck stepped on the scene. With Kevin Hogan leading the Cardinal currently and Keller Chryst, the top quarterback of the 2014 class on deck, where did that leave the hard-working high school all-American from Utah? Too many talented quarterbacks is a champagne problem, one that Stanford is not even mad about having. Thus, Lloyd’s move to safety; born not out of necessity but out of opportunity.

While the two positions are separated by a span of letters in the alphabet, they are fundamentally similar, making the transition easier for players. Having the support of your team, coaches and former players turned NFL standouts also helps.

“Let me tell you, I’ve gotten a lot of advice since I switched over, from Richard Sherman who did the same thing, from my incredible teammates, from the leaders of the defensive backs, teaching me techniques, teaching me coverages, and also great coaching – Coach Duane Akina, who was here for the second half of spring ball and has been with us all camp is just phenomenal,” said Lloyd. “So I would say my transition has been pretty seamless thanks to all those guys.”

But what about preparation? There has to be a completely different routine, both mentally and physically to prepare for tracking the football in the air instead of throwing the perfect spiral into the waiting arms of a speedy receiver. Lloyd disagrees, taking the changes in stride.

“The offensive playbook is extremely dense, so learning the defensive playbook after that has been pretty easy but the main thing has been my body – running a lot, getting in the ice tub, getting my muscles ready and just hitting and tackling now because QB’s don’t see any contact at all throughout training camp, but now I am the one coming up and making the tackles.”

When asked if it is refreshing and liberating change to make tackles and hit guys in camp, Lloyd responded with a smile and a resounding “yes!”

“Because when you are mad you can actually just take it out on the field.”

While senior Jordan Richards is a likely lock for one of the safety spots, Lloyd is competing with fellow former offensive player Kodi Whitfield, senior Kyle Oglubode and junior Zach Hoffpauir for the second spot. But Lloyd doesn’t see it as a battle; he views it as working together for the common goal of improving the backfield.

“Honestly all you can do is your best everyday. We have a really competitive group; our secondary is really competitive but we all like each other, we are all really good friends and we all get along really well. Two people are out there at a time at safety and two corners, so those guys are getting the reps and if you are not in, you’re watching and getting mental reps and then when your turn comes you just go in and give it your all, so no matter who is in and who is out everyone is paying attention and trying to get better.”

When asked if there was one guy he worked better with on the field, Lloyd’s response was earnest and surprising. And not just because he is a nice guy.

“No and I think that’s a really good thing about our secondary. Coach Akina has really been getting on us about communicating so we talk a lot, we make sure we are on the same page and him forcing us to do that has allowed us to mesh and to really gel as a unit.”

Want to know what piece of advice from his teammates and coaches stuck with Lloyd the most? Check out Ashley Roe’s exclusive interview below with the newly minted safety after Saturdays scrimmage!

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Emily Van Buskirk

SportsWatch Columnist
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