Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Taking Inventory: Cornerbacks

When you watch the 4-2-5 defense in action, you see that a lot of the time linebackers end up doing some of the work of the safeties and safeties end up doing some of the work of the linebackers. It's that kind of collaboration of talent that sometimes makes it seem as if the Frogs have 12 or 13 defenders on the field at any given time. That's not really the case with the cornerbacks, however, who are often left "out on an island" (if I may borrow some coaching jargon) to fend for themselves. Because of the tough demands the system puts on the corners and TCU's relative lack of depth at the position over the years, corner has often been near the top of the annual list of question marks for the team. But this year, even after losing a starter (Jason Teague- to graduation) and a backup (Elisha Olabode- who moved to safety), the Frogs do have a solid group of corners heading into the fall.

Senior Greg McCoy is the oldest and most experienced of the Horned Frog corners, having started all 13 games a year ago and 15 for his career. He did get beat a few times early in the season, but rebounded to post 10 tackles, pick off two passes and break up four more. Being that he is one of the fastest players on the team, even if he does get beat at first he's shown that he can close on the receiver while the ball is in the air.

Starting opposite McCoy will likely be one of a pair of sophomores- Travaras Battle or Jason Verrett. Battle played in all 13 games last year as a true freshman out of San Antonio's John Jay High School, recording 18 tackles and forcing a fumble. His most memorable play of the year might've been in the Rose Bowl, when he downed an Anson Kelton punt inside the five while serving on special teams. Verrett is a JUCO transfer that illustrated his dedication to the game by taking the rare step of redshirting while at Santa Rosa JC in order to learn the cornerback position after having originally been planning on playing receiver. He was able to enroll at TCU last January, and had an impressive spring practice.

Three other Frog CBs that were on the roster but didn't play in a game in 2010 are redshirt freshman Kevin White and junior walk-ons Devin Johnson and Brian Alexis. White was a well thought-of, do-everything recruit out of Round Rock Stony Point who redshirted a year ago because, frankly, the Frogs didn't need him to burn a year of eligibility. Johnson and Alexis didn't play last year, but were forced into action by the injury bug at the end of the 2009 season- including some crunch-time action in the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State.

Two very talented true freshmen, Kolby Griffin and Travosky Garrett, will be looking to crack the rotation this fall. Griffin, who has already been identified as a potential future leader for TCU because of the intelligence and team-first attitude displayed in the blog postings he wrote for purplemenace.com, turned down offers from Arkansas, Baylor and Texas Tech when he committed to TCU very early in the process. Garrett, at 6-1 186 and with freak athleticism that led him to concentrate more on track than football earlier in his high school career in Lufkin, could be seen as the second coming of Teague...a comparison that will be amplified because he's been assigned Teague's jersey #27.

Now's the time for me to offer you a figurative penny for your thoughts. Who do you think claims the second starting position at corner- Battle, Verrett, or someone else alltogether? Who will be the most trusted back-ups? Will either of the true freshmen play this fall? Let's hear it in the comments section...

1 comment:

Sir Wesley Willis said...

For a long time I kept thinking it would be Verrett based on his age and hype, but I think it's Battle's to lose. Regardless, there will be regular rotation, as there always is. Both of those guys will see significant time.

Of course I'm going to say Kolby Griffin as the freshman who will see time, but if Johnson or Alexis can fill in in a pinch, why waste a year of his eligibility?