Top 5 position battles to watch: Safety

The countdown of Stanford's top-5 position battles continues.

One position battle will be highlighted each day this week.

No. 4: Safety

Who to watch: Kodi Whitfield, Zach Hoffpauir, Kyle Olugbode, Dallas Lloyd

Outlook: One of the safety spots is set in stone: Jordan Richards will be back to finish his career as a three-year starter. The other -- previously occupied by Ed Reynolds, who declared for the NFL draft -- is up for grabs. Before Monday, handicapping the competition was already tough to sort out, but then the school announced that Whitfield, who played wide receiver the past two seasons, would make the switch to safety for spring practice. This comes after Lloyd moved to safety from quarterback in December. Before those moves, Hoffpauir and Olugbode appeared to be the only serious candidates for the job. The Whitfield position change is especially interesting because he ranked third on the team with 16 catches last season.

Only two scenarios make sense for Whitfield: 1. He shows enough during the spring to make the staff confident he'll be the starter; or 2. It's a rough transition, and he's moved back to receiver in the fall. He's going to be on the field, it's now a matter of which side of the ball. There's also the matter of who will be the position coach -- former defensive coordinator Derek Mason was responsible for defensive backs before leaving for Vanderbilt. Several candidates have been interviewed, and an announcement is expected this week.