In reality, Tevin Shaw probably stands an equal chance at success regardless of whether he's playing offense or defense.
A multi-sport star out of Piscataway (N.J.) Township, the one-time Iowa commit came back onto the market very late in the process for the Class of 2012, and the Kansas head coach Charlie Weis was quick to swoop in with a scholarship offer. One visit to campus later, and by Valentine's Day he had made the decision to become a Jayhawk.
As a senior during the 2011 season, Shaw earned multiple honors for his play at running back and safety. On offense, he carried the ball 245 times for 1,529 yards and 23 scores, while across the line of scrimmage he racked up 75 tackles - including 32 solos - three interceptions and a pair of sacks.
So when he reached campus, Weis offered him a choice. He told him he could play whichever position he wanted, but the reality was that he would likely start out fairly low on the depth chart at running back due to the glut of talent and experience at the position.
On defense, however, he would start "very high up" on the depth chart at safety.
"I said, based on the depth we have at secondary, you could put yourself on the field a lot quicker," Weis explained. "You can play whichever one you want."
Understandably, Shaw chose safety.
The Jayhawks aren't particularly deep at the position. Senior Bradley McDougald has the starting free safety job on lockdown, and senior Lubbock Smith is likely close to doing the same to strong safety. Behind them, however, there does not exist a great deal of experience. Sophomores Victor Simmons and Ray Mitchell are currently listed as the backups at FS and SS respectively.
Shaw has an excellent skill set for a strong safety. Possessed of good straight line speed and acceleration, he's intelligent, rarely over pursues and is a fantastic tackler in the open field. It's not hard to envision a scenario in which he sees the field a great deal this fall.
Additionally, defensive linemen Randall Dent and Pat Lewandowski were moved to the offensive line.
That Lewandowski had been switched from defensive end was revealed by Weis to a small group of reporters in mid-June. He noted that a second defensive linemen had been switched as well - Dent - which he made public at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas this week.
"Randall was an offensive lineman playing defensive line anyway," Weis said. "That's what he was. He's a powerful guy that was tailor made to be a guard. So that's what he's now playing."
Furthermore, he explained that he would not have made the move if he didn't think the two could compete for playing time. Fans may gasp at the thought of robbing an already thin defensive line of two of its bodies, but the truth is depth in the trenches should be fine regardless.
The additions of JUCO defensive linemen Keon Stowers, Ty McKinney and Jordan Tavai, freshman Tyler Holmes and fifth-year transfer Josh Williams will provide the group with an infusion of fresh talent. And the return of defensive tackle John Williams from injury will give them another big boost.
"Whether they start, whether they're second team, that's not the point," Weis said, of Dent and Lewandowski. "But they'll be in the hunt. I think the important thing is making sure that you put as many players in the hunt to play (as possible), because more players are happy when they're competitively involved and putting themselves in a position to play."
The Jayhawks open fall camp next week.