This is going to be one of the toughest positions to evaluate without being able to watch practice, but stick with me. With 4 incoming players (though it has recently been announced that one of them will be redshirting due to an injury) immediately competing with the returning players for not only playing time, but for a starting spot, we have a whole lot of unknown at CB. There's a chance that two of the top three players (I'm counting nickel) at the position are true freshmen, and that may not be a bad thing for us. I'll explain why!
- Jered Bell, So - With Parker Orms and Terrel Smith moving back to safety (thank goodness), that means Bell and Josh Moten have been here the longest of any of the CBs. Bell missed last season with a knee injury just days after being named a starter. He got some good playing time as a true freshman and at times, looked like he could develop into a pretty good and physical corner. He is full-go for August camp and is in the running for one of the starting spots, but I don't know how close he is to being full strength in his knee and back up to full speed. He has solid size and while he wasn't blazing fast as a freshman, he was fast enough. We'll see where he stacks up with the everyone now that he's back in the mix.
Follow the jump to see what foot size really correlates to!
- Greg Henderson, So - He was good for us last year. He wasn't perfect, but the one thing he did do, was not let mistakes get to him and affect his play. The mental part of the game usually takes time to develop for DBs, but he already has that down. And he has also been mentioned as a guy who has improved this offseason. Combine that with the fact that he won't be playing opposite reserve RBs and WRs this year, and we have a lot to look forward to out of the defensive backfield. He also has been practicing at nickel, which is one of the big reasons guys like Orms & Smith have been able to move back to practicing at safety. Henderson not only gives us a steady (and now experienced) presence on the outside, but he could develop into a pretty darn good corner by the time he's done here. Henderson has one starting spot locked down (in our base defense, and in nickel & dime sets).
- Hunter Harrison, So - Walk-on. Don't know much about him, except that he made it into the two-deep this spring (before the freshmen were thrown into the mix)
- Josh Moten, So - Yes, he's still only a sophomore, but after greyshirting and then redshirting, he has been here for a while. Moten has been cited as having good ball skills (he's scored one defensive TD by ripping the ball away from an offensive player in pretty limited time) and is a very good overall athlete. He is facing stiff competition for that starting spot opposite Henderson, though, and he hasn't done enough going into camp to feel any kind of security going into this season.
- Brandan Brisco, RFr - I believe he's a redshirt, but I'm not positive. Don't know much about him. Walk-on.
- Sherrard Harrington, RFr - He sat out all of last season with a hip injury and he's nursing an injury right now, so hopefully he'll get into the mix soon. But his impact has already been felt as he came from the DC area and helped to recruit some former teammates and other players. He's also a pretty fantastic athlete, so hopefully we'll get him healthy and in the mix soon. But he's one of the reasons to be excited about our CBs going forward after the unit suffered through such a tough year in 2011.
- Richard Yates II, RFr - I believe he's also a redshirt frosh. Don't know much about him. Also a walk on.
- Isaac Archuleta, Fr - Another walk on, also don't know much about him.
- Kenneth Crawley, Fr - And now we're into the exciting batch of freshmen. Crawley was one of two 4* recruits at CB that headlined this class and was one of the "D.C. Three". He is an exciting and dynamic athlete, though he could stand to fill out a little bit at some point. I expect him to challenge immediately for playing time, along with his fellow 4* DB, and wouldn't be surprised if either of them grabbed the spot opposite Henderson soon. And if he doesn't end up with that spot, I wouldn't be surprised if he was the other guy on the outside in our nickel sets with Henderson moving inside, which we'll probably play a lot against Pac-12 teams. Even if he doesn't end up "starting" he will be playing a lot this year. And it sounds like he could help out as a returner as well.
- Jeffrey Hall, Fr - A Louisiana kid that was deciding between playing football and baseball in college. He chose Football, and that should be good for us. He's a very good all-around athlete and while he isn't as tall as Crawley or Wright, he should still be challenging for immediate playing time. We weren't sure he would qualify so he got a little lost in the mix between signing day and August camp, but he's here now and I'm expecting to hear good things about him.
- John Walker, Fr - He's already been ticketed for a redshirt season because of a finger injury that will require surgery, but one of these guys was going to have to sit out for class-balance purposes anyway. He is still a smaller guy, so it's not the worst thing for him to take some time to build up a bit. Physically, he strikes me as the kind of player that Greg Brown likes as his nickelback, so I would expect him to be in the mix at that spot next year. Another one of the "D.C. Three"
- Yuri Wright, Fr - He joined the team as the other 4* DB recruit, though there were many more words devoted to him than there were to Crawley. And it was because he was involved in some twitter-controversy, which was way overblown. Basically, he tweeted some song lyrics that were deemed to be not-PC, was kicked out of his school months afterwards (the timing mysteriously coincided with the end of his HS's football season...), and was generally considered to be a bad guy after that. He dropped off the radar of schools like Notre Dame, but it all worked out for us, because we got a phenomenally talented kid who is by all accounts, quiet, driven and a good guy. Thankfully, our coaches did their homework and were happy to offer this kid a spot, and I think it will work out well for us. He's right up there with Crawley at the moment, and I think we're going to see a lot of him this year.
Greg Henderson will start, that much we know. After that, it's a pretty wide open competition for the other spot in our base defense, and that third spot when we go nickel, which we will do often. They're working Henderson inside when we go nickel, so we're essentially looking for two CBs who can play outside after Greg, and I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if it was Crawley and Wright. But don't count out Bell, who is coming back from injury, Moten, Harrington when he gets back, or even the other freshman, Hall. Either way, more than three guys will see the field, so hopefully those older guys are doing everything they can to bring the freshmen along. Either way, there is WAY more talent at CB than there was in 2011, and much more depth. Yes, there's little-to-no experience, so we may see a number of guys get reps in those first couple of games, especially if we get some leads, but I'm still pretty comfortable with how we're set up here. I think this group will be solid, though there's a chance it will be good. And you never know, if these Freshmen can step in right away and play well, it may even be a position of strength. At the very least, it is set up to be one in another season or two.