BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Nickelback might not be the most popular band, but nickel back sure seems like a perfect position for Arkansas junior defensive back Myles Slusher.
Slusher (6-0, 193) played in 11 games last season with 7 starts and finished with 50 tackles, including a half sack, and had a career-high 10 tackles in a win over Missouri.
He has spent most of those snaps at safety, but is making the move to nickel.
“I’m loving the position,” Slusher said Tuesday after Arkansas’ 16th of 25 schedule preseason practices. “It’s something new to learn, but I’m just grasping it as it goes.
“(Defensive backs) Coach (Dominique Bowman) has put me in the greatest position this year, and I think everybody will be able to thrive.
“The safeties, we’ve got Jay(len Lewis), we’ve got Cat (Jalen Catalon), Sim(eon Blair), (Latavious) Brini, the list keeps going on. Then you have the corners. Whoever we put on the field anybody can play any position. So, I think coach knows what he’s doing.”
Bowman feels like Slusher, a former Broken Arrow, Okla. consensus four-star prospect and a top five safety nationally, has the right abilities to play the nickel.
“That position in itself is one of the toughest positions in our scheme schematically,” Bowman said. “You’ve got to blitz, you’ve got to set the edge, you’ve got to play corner. So, it’s a linebacker, a corner and a safety all in one.
“…You’ve got to play some man-free coverages on it. You play pulls, you play apex, the whole nine. Myles Slusher is a smart player, so I feel like he is one of our best DB’s. He can play corner, he can play safety, he can play outside backer, which is the nickel spot.”
Slusher played in six games as a true freshman with one start, 15 tackles and a forced fumble while totaling 199 defensive snaps and 18 special team ones.
He is looking forward to the Sept. 3 season opener with Cincinnati at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, but notes the team is still focused on shoring things up.
“It’s a work in process just helping us work to be more consistent,” Slusher said. “Coming in every day consistent that way we can be ready for when the season gets here.”