Thursday, March 6, 2014
Spring position breakdowns: CB
By Kyle Bonagura
Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 continues with the cornerbacks.
Arizona: Jonathan McKnight returns, but the Wildcats will have to replace a good player in Shaquille Richardson. Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez mentioned Derek Babiash and Devin Holiday as potential candidates for Richardson's spot. Babiash appeared in nine games with a pair of tackles last season, and Holiday appeared in all 13 with an interception. Junior college transfer Patrick Glover could be a factor, and freshmen Logan Bartlett, Jarvis McCall and Arlandis Hinton are coming off redshirt seasons.
Arizona State: With potentially 10 starting quarterbacks returning in the Pac-12, it's not a good season to lose both corners, which is the case for ASU. Robert Nelson and Osahon Irabor are gone, and Lloyd Carrington returns as the most experienced player. Junior college transfer Kweishi Brown was the nation's No. 3-ranked corner and should be expected to contribute right away.
California: Kameron Jackson's surprising decision to leave early for the NFL leaves new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman without much experience. Cedric Dozier, Joel Willis, Adrian Lee and Isaac Lapite all started at least one game last season, but none more than four (Dozier). The newcomer is junior college transfer Darius White, who was the No. 7-ranked juco CB in the Class of 2014.
Colorado: The Buffs return both Kenneth Crawley and Greg Henderson, who topped the final depth chart of the season. Chidobe Awuzie started at nickel and the team also returns Jeffrey Hall, John Walker and Marques Mosley, all of whom appeared on the three-deep depth chart.
Oregon: Terrance Mitchell decided to leave a year early for the NFL, but the Ducks will benefit greatly from Ifo Ekpre-Olomu's decision to return. Dior Mathis, who played in all 13 games last season, is the favorite to move into Mitchell's role, and Troy Hill should be in the rotation. Junior college transfer Dominique Harrison is on campus and a candidate for playing time and the coaches like Chris Seisay, who is coming off his redshirt.
Oregon State: Losing Rashaad Reynolds will be tough, but Steven Nelson, an all-Pac-12 honorable mention honoree, gives the Beavers a playmaker on one side. Like Nelson last season, junior college transfer DeMarlon Morris could be in line for immediate playing time. Dashon Hunt, a prize recruit of the Beavers' 2013 recruiting class, and Larry Scott, who played in 12 games last season, are two others to keep an eye on.
Stanford: Alex Carter is expected to miss all of spring practice with a hip injury, which will create reps for guys such as Ronnie Harris, Ra'Chard Pippens and Taijuan Thomas. Harris is the favorite emerge from that group at corner in nickel situations, when Wayne Lyons will shift over to cover the slot.
UCLA: The Bruins have a lot of talent back, starting with Fabian Moreau, who earned all-Pac-12 honorable mention in his first season as a starter last season. Ishmael Adams started every game and led the team with four interceptions. Priest Willis played mostly on special teams as a freshman, but the former big-time recruit is in line for more playing time on defense.
USC: Kevon Seymour's first season as a starter finished on a high note with a solid performance in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. He'll be expected to remain in that role with a competition for the spot next to him. Senior Anthony Brown figures to get the first crack, but injury problems have been a concern, as has been the case with Devian Shelton. It's a big spring for Chris Hawkins, who is coming off his redshirt, before a solid crop of recruits, led by Adoree' Jackson, arrive.
Utah: The Utes lose one of the draft's rising prospects in Keith McGill, who at 6-foot-3 provided a unique look for the Utah defense. Davion Orphey, a transfer from Santa Ana College, saw the most starts opposite McGill last season, but Justin Thomas and Reginald Porter also saw time in the starting lineup.
Washington: With Marcus Peters coming back, the Huskies have a good starting spot and will look for a new starter to play alongside him. It's an important spring for both senior Travell Dixon, who transferred from Alabama after a brief stop there in 2012, and freshman Jermaine Kelly as they try to make a positive impression on the new staff before four new corners arrive in the fall.
Washington State: Possibly the most important step for the Cougars this spring is to shore up the secondary -- a difficult task following the departure of seniors Damante Horton and Nolan Washington (in addition to Deone Bucannon at safety). Daquawn Brown, who is not short on confidence, started three games last season and fared well against USC's Marqise Lee. There isn't much other experience on the roster, and the team signed four corners from the high school ranks.