Slightly out of order, but Grad was on top of this and I was running behind with the LB's. So we'll go corners today, LB's tomorrow, safeties on Thursday, specialists on Friday.
KU has plenty of depth and talent at CB; however we are still waiting to see how that translates to the field. This is an area that both Mangino and Gill have been able to do well in terms of recruiting, and this group appears to have a ton of potential.
Last season, KU’s corners struggled, especially at tackling. A lot of small completions turned into long touchdowns, and this is an area that the Jayhawks will have to improve in. Big plays were a big problem for the defense, but hopefully another year of seasoning will help our defensive backs play tighter coverage and bring their guys down.
I think continuity is the key for this group’s development, and it appears that our secondary will not have a lot of guys changing positions this offseason or being thrown to the fire before they are ready.
Tyler Patmon – 5’11, 180 – Sophomore (33)
After redshirting his first year at KU, Patmon was able to quickly move up the depth chart last year as a RS Freshman, eventually assuming the role of nickel back. Tyler started nine games at nickel corner in KU’s 4-2-5 base scheme, racking up 45 tackles, two interceptions, and 10 passes defended. He is remembered most for his monster game against Colorado - he had five tackles, one interception, one recovered fumble returned for a score and three passes broken up. He followed that game with an interception and two passes broken up at Nebraska. Tyler broke out as a playmaker in Big 12 play, and his development helped KU improve defensively as the season progressed.
With KU shifting to a more traditional 4-3-4 look next year, Patmon has been listed as a starting CB. It will be interesting how he transitions from playing on the slot guys to being outside, but he could still play more of the nickel role in passing situations. His playmaking ability and nose for the ball should continue to be a big boost to the defense.
Greg Brown – 5’11, 185 – Junior (5)
Greg arrived at KU with a ton of talent and speed; unfortunately it took him a while to translate his physical skills to on-the-field success. Towards the end of last season, he had a bit of a coming out party, and now seems ready to become one of the better corners in the league. Greg eventually earned a starting spot, starting the final five games of the season, and played well – averaging seven tackles a game over this span and grabbing an interception against Missouri.
Brown appears to be turning into the player many thought he could be. He should start next season and will hopefully continue to put up the kind of numbers he did at the end of last year.
Isiah Barfield – 5’11, 185 – Senior (19)
Isiah started all twelve games for KU last season, however he is not participating in spring practice due to injury. Barfield had been a bit of a journeyman before locking up the starting CB role last season, spending most of his time on special teams and also having a stint at WR.
Barfield played ok last year, grabbing two picks and picking up plenty of tackles. However, his injury and the emergence of Patmon and Brown appear to have him a bit on the outside looking in at the moment. Starting or not, his experience will help him see plenty of time on the field this fall.
Anthony Davis – 5’11, 205 – Senior (30)
Anthony is a guy who always seems to be listed in the two and three deep, but has yet to make much of an impact as a Jayhawk. He served as a backup all of last season, registering 14 tackles for the year. This was a bit of a setback for Anthony, as he started the 2009 season opener as well as the final three games of the season.
At this point, it appears as if Davis’ time to become a significant contributor is running out. That being said, he has an opportunity this spring to turn some heads, and his experience at the college level could pay off.
Corrigan Powell - 5’11, 180 – Junior (10)
Like Davis, Powell is a player who has seen less and less action on the field as his career at KU has progressed. As a freshman, Corrigan saw action in KU’s first nine games of the season, and even registered a start again Texas Tech. Despite plenty of opportunities during the Mark "I’m going to rotate every single guy I have at corner until one of them plays well" Mangino reign of terror, Corrigan never turned any heads. As a result, he barely played last season, and didn’t register any statistics.
Powell got his chances, but never really looked comfortable out there. He has a lot of work to do to get back into the mix at CB next season.
Dexter Linton - 5’11, 200 – Sophomore (32)
Dexter has yet to see any playing time for the Jayhawks, but he appears talented enough to make an impact sometime soon. He was rated in the top 100 high school players from the state of Texas while earning a three star rivals ranking and a spot on the prestigious Fighting 5.7s.
Dexter has the talent to become a player, yet he may have to wait another year before seeing significant minutes.
Dexter McDonald – 6’1,194 – RS Freshman (27)
Why have one Dexter in your defensive backfield when you could have two? This Dexter has the honor of being the only cornerback listed over six feet tall, and size is always a great commodity at this position. In high school, McDonald was rated as one of the five best prospects in the Kansas City area, putting up big time stats at Rockhurst High School. His high school success led to a three star ranking from Rivals.
Dexter has good size and is a guy to keep an eye on down the road. I wouldn’t expect to see him much, if any, on the field this season, but he will likely be heard from quite a bit before his time as a Jayhawk is done.
Five Questions Entering Spring Practice:
1) Where will Tyler Patmon play? Patmon made a lot of noise in Big 12 play as a slot/nickel guy. Will he be moved outside and play as more of a traditional corner? If he does, will he be effective?
2) How much will Isiah Barfield’s injury slow him down? Barfield earned a starter’s role last year, but missing the spring practice and the emergence of Patmon and Brown could lead to the senior riding more pine this year.
3) Will Davis or Powell finally make the leap? Both have a lot of time in the system and both saw a lot of early action before riding the bench last year. They have experience, but their window of opportunity to contribute is closing fast.
4) Will the Dexters play? Both Linton and McDonald are talented, yet raw. Do they have enough to beat out Davis or Corrigan?
5) Will the defensive line provide a pass rush? I know we say it every year, but these guys need the big boys to get some heat on the QB, or they will struggle.
Patmon and Brown have the potential to be stars, while Barfield adds some needed experience and leadership to the position. After those three, things begin to get a bit cloudy. Davis has a good opportunity to play, and I would expect him to be at least the fourth CB in terms of minutes played. Corrigan appears to be a career backup, and the Dexters are talented but young. Cornerback could be one of the team’s strengths next year, and these guys will be even better if our defense develops a consistent pass rush.