BOWLING GREEN - In the time Terrill Mayberry took this preseason to think about switching from cornerback to free safety before he agreed - all of 10 seconds maybe - a qualm about putting his 170-pound frame in the thick of traffic did not cross his mind.
Just make sure he has an extra ice pack afterward.
"I'm a little more sore on Saturday after the game and Sunday," Mayberry said. "Taking a few more cold baths."
His coaches will take that deal. Mayberry, playing a new position for Bowling Green State University this season after starting every game at corner last year, has made himself a big factor in the defensive backfield, a unit that has forced 13 of the Falcons' 15 turnovers.
The past three weeks, BGSU has turned the Mid-American Conference East defensive player of the week award into a revolving door, Mayberry being the latest Falcon to earn honors for his play against the University at Buffalo last weekend.
Mayberry intercepted two passes, helped force a fumble and tied for the game lead with eight tackles. He's now the leading tackler on the team this season with 45.
"That one pick was spectacular," BGSU coach Gregg Brandon said after the game. "He went up for that thing in a crowd and took it down. He's really starting to see the field a little better, which is what you have to do at that position."
Mayberry, a 5-11 senior from Farmington Hills, Mich., didn't know how long the quest for comfort at safety would take to accomplish. He practiced all training camp at corner, but after the last scrimmage, coaches told him they wanted to move stud freshman Antonio Smith into the lineup and wanted Mayberry at free safety.
"I think he was a little apprehensive, but he knew that it was best for him and the team, and he responded," Brandon said.
Mayberry actually played a little safety at the beginning of his college career, burning his redshirt in 2002 with an emergency start against Central Michigan. The game felt "3,000 miles an hour" to him then, and the past two seasons he had worked hard to learn the intricacies of the cornerback position. Now it was time to start over.
His tenure started well. In the second quarter of season-opener at Wisconsin, Mayberry intercepted one of the Badgers' few passes at the Falcons' 6. He felt a little shaky on his assignments but attributed it partly to the big-game atmosphere of Camp Randall Stadium.
When he felt the same way at Ball State, Mayberry knew he had to put in some extra time. Leading up to the Boise State game, he watched the tape of each practice afterwards, and studied Boise State film at home for two hours every night.
If anything good came out of the Boise State debacle, it's that Mayberry took ownership of his position.
"Even though we didn't play well as a team in that game, it was the first time I really felt as if I was in the right position," Mayberry said. "I was OK after that."
Teammates and coaches have noticed new poise and enthusiasm from Mayberry as the year has continued.
"He's getting more confident with his calls as time goes; he really works at it," defensive backs coach John Bowers said. "He takes pride in the little things."
He's also gained respect for making a decision solely based on team.
"The change took a lot of self-sacrifice on his part," senior defensive lineman Mike Thaler said. "It's been awesome for him from what I can see. He's really stepped up his game and really played well."
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