Sam Dollar met Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown 14 years ago and was enthralled by his coaching philosophy. Dollar’s connection with Brown planted the seeds for Sammy Faustin to go to Michigan.
“We’ve become good friends, and we teach the same type of techniques that he does,” said Dollar, Faustin’s defensive coordinator at Naples (Fla.) High School. “He talked about making Sammy a safety and I said, ‘that could work out well for us.’”
Faustin moved from cornerback to safety his senior season, a move which helped steer him to Michigan. He knows the similarities between Brown and Dollar, which will help his transition to college football and more specifically to Michigan’s defense.
“Coach Dollar, I’d say, he’s similar to Coach Brown in many ways,” said Faustin, who signed with the Wolverines in December. “It’s not like I’m just going to play for a different person. They’re both smart guys and know a lot about football. It’s like playing for the same coach.”
Faustin described going from cornerback to safety like learning how to swim for the first time.
“You have to try to adapt yourself to it and learn the things you’ve got to do,” Faustin said. “I had to study and know what I had to do when I was on the field. But I got used to it during the season. It felt like I’d been there, but I still have things I need to work on.
“At safety, you have way more responsibilities than playing at corner,” said Faustin, who had 36 tackles, 1 interception, 1 tackle for loss, 1 fumble recovery and 3 pass breakups last fall. “You’re the last person that anyone has to run by. If you miss a tackle, then it’s pretty much a touchdown.”
A native of Turks and Caicos, Faustin is one of five defensive backs in Michigan’s 2018 class. He’ll join a deep position group that includes starters Josh Metellus and Tyree Kinnel, plus Casey Hughes, a graduate transfer from Utah.
Naples coach Bill Kramer said Faustin has to adjust to a learning curve in his first year at Michigan, but he projects Faustin to fit into Brown’s defense because of his physical tools.
“He’s a 6-foot-2, 190-pound guy with long arms that can run and play press man,” Kramer said. “He can play outside or inside, that’s pretty rare. He has a big enough frame and body to fit the run, so that makes him good in playing in a hybrid, Don Brown-type of defense.”
Dollar has taken what he has learned from Brown in the course of more than 13 years, and has used it to shape his defense. The base will be there for Faustin. At Michigan, it will be about Faustin’s ability to adapt within a familiar system.
“Some things are going to be a little different when he gets to Michigan,” Dollar said. “He’ll make a transition to what things are called in the system, and it’s a question of, how will Sammy process that? He has to do that in his mind, first, sort of like learning a new language. He’ll hear things like ‘stutter’ or ‘technique,’ individual words that we use exactly, and it will come to him. That’s when he’ll say, ‘OK, that’s what we did at Naples!’ That knowledge is going to help him as a freshman at Michigan.”
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