This year, there is a freshman SS looking to break into a deep and talented secondary and getting a lot of hype about his abilities. Obviously, that player is Quin Blanding, one of the top prep players in the country last year. Last year, there was a similar situation with Malcolm Cook. Cook wasn't quite as highly touted as Blanding, but he was still a high-3 star recruit with an impressive offer list and 4 years of starting experience. He spent his senior year at Fork Union, which can be a big boost to a players' readiness for college football.
Cook impressed during fall camp, and may have pushed for playing time. But the truth was there was simply too much talent ahead of him at the safety position. Why waste his redshirt season when there are three upperclassmen ahead of him on the depth chart, and several young players who've already used their redshirts. This was a simple case of not trading a few plays now for what could be a big year in 2017.
Cook has tons of ability. Before transferring to FUMA, Cook played pretty much every skill position from QB to DB and also returned kicks. Once he got to FUMA, he focused on playing S and was very good there. In his lone year at FUMA, he had 9 INTs and returned 4 of those for TDs. He's not the biggest safety, but at 6'1" and 200 lbs, he's big enough. And he's a legit mid-4.4 guy. That combination of size and speed will play very well at either SS or FS.
This year with Blanding joining All-American Anthony Harris and senior Brandon Phelps, playing time at S may be hard to find for Cook. He'll be involved on special teams, where he could be a beast. There are also a number of other Ss on the roster, including Wil Wahee (who missed last year with a knee injury after being particularly impressive during last year's spring practices. There's also Kelvin Rainey and Mason Thomas, both of whom are more experienced than Cook, if not more talented.
In short, Cook is a very talented kid with tons of potential. A year of special teams work, and maybe some spot duty on defense could prepare him to be the starter alongside Blanding for 2015 and beyond.