INDIANAPOLIS – Kirk Callahan had seen what the entire Georgia Dome was witnessing on Sunday afternoon.
When Clayton Geathers hits, he doesn't hold back
"He's a fast player, but he hits people at full speed. He doesn't blink," Callahan, Geathers' position coach at Central Florida, said.
"When he hits people, he brings his back leg through and he hits people at full speed."
At UCF, Geathers finished his 52-start career third in school history with 383 tackles.
His hits frequently left an impression and that was evident again Sunday, on a much larger stage.
Several of Geathers' seven tackles in his first NFL start Sunday brought a gasp throughout the 70,000 and change inside the Georgia Dome.
He might be a rookie, but this kid made his presence felt.
"He played with a lot of energy, a lot of physicality and a lot of passion," Chuck Pagano said of Geathers after reviewing the film on Monday.
"You could just see it – whether he made a play or somebody else made a play, he brought a lot to our defense (Sunday)."
Geathers getting the starting nod on Sunday was a bit of a surprise.
After normal starter Mike Adams missed the week of practice due to an ankle injury, the thought was Colt Anderson would slide into the lineup, like he did against New Orleans in place of an injured Adams.
Back in Week Seven against the Saints, Geathers was also sitting out due to injury.
With Adams out again Sunday (a rarity for the 12-year veteran), the rookie was going to take full advantage of his opportunity.
"He prepared really well," Pagano said of the fourth-round pick.
"He rose up and met the challenge. And he put the time in. He beat everybody here. Every single morning he was with his coaches. We start meetings at 7:30, 8:00. He's in this building 6:30, 7:00 grinding away."
The mental side of Geathers' game is why the Colts felt comfortable throwing different roles at him during the offseason program.
In OTAs, Pagano said Geathers had "exceeded expectations" with the Colts inserting the 6-2, 215-pound safety into their dime hybrid/linebacker package.
Sunday was the first extended action Geathers has received in the Colts base defense.
After seven tackles and a couple of plays in pass coverage (including a tip leading to Dwight Lowery's end-zone interception), Geathers showed that he is almost a certain piece of the Colts future at safety.
"Geathers had a heck of a ball game," Pagano said.
"He was all over the place, big hits, tipped balls. He was outstanding."