Late last season, it appeared as if K-State's entire secondary would return virtually every single player who logged time in 2009, except Courtney Herndon.
But then Joshua Moore declared for the NFL draft, Courtney Thompson was kicked off the team after the spring game and Darious Thomas was declared academically ineligible, causing him to miss the upcoming season and perhaps leave the team entirely.
As a result, the cornerback position appears to be somewhat weaker than originally projected, which is not great news in the still spread-happy Big 12.
But in my opinion, things are not quite as bleak as they might seem, because there is some returning talent at the position — just not a lot of depth.
Click the jump to see my reasoning.
The Bump-and-Run Specialists
In a typical case of misdiagnosis of position by Ron Prince, Stephen Harrison was wide receiver who hadn't seen the field in two seasons when Bill Snyder and company returned to Vanier Football Complex. They quickly shifted him to cornerback, a position of great need. Other than when he was abused by Texas Tech — and who hasn't been, really? — Stephen performed well last year. With Moore's departure and Thomas' eligibility issues, Harrison might not be the most talented CB on the roster, but he's certainly the most experienced. Pencil him in as a starter for his final year.
#10 Kelo Webster
At 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, true freshman Kelo Webster has prototypical cornerback size. Even better, he was a four-year letterman in track at Keller High in Texas and a three-time regional qualifier, so he's probably pretty fast. I would expect him to redshirt this season, but he could turn into a pretty productive walk-on player for us next season when we lose our two likely starters to graduation.
#15 Randall Evans
It truly is a small world. Case in point: What Randall Evans' bio won't tell you — but his Facebook page might — is that the Miami native once dated the younger sister of Michael Beasley. With Fatima Smith perhaps helping to guide his decision, is it any wonder he ended up at K-State? Even better: He's 6 feet tall and he picked off 12 passes in his last two years of high school, so he actually might end up making a impact this season.
#16 Terrance Sweeney
Like Prizell Brown, Terrance Sweeney was another late addition to the roster last season from Blinn Community College. So late, in fact, that it took him quite a while to break into the rotation — he didn't see significant playing time until the last five games of the season. Well, throw all that out the window, because this spring and summer, Sweeney apparently made a strong case to become a starter and fill the void left by Josh Moore's departure. Not only is Sweeney the fastest player on the team (4.39 40), but his name was the first to roll off fellow players' tongues when asked during the summer tour who had been the most impressive on the team in workouts. The last time we heard this much offseason hype for a defensive back, it was Emmanuel Lamur. Brace yourselves.
#27 David Garrett
The Terrance Sweeney of last summer was David Garrett, affectionately known as "Rat." He parlayed that excitement into a solid season — even though he eventually lost his starting job to Harrison, Garrett settled into his role as the team's primary nickel defensive back. Then in spring, he predominantly played safety. Although the loss of Thomas and Thompson likely will force Garrett back into a cornerback position, where he once again will vie with Harrison and Sweeney for a starting position, he still could see spot time at Cat safety if needed.
#31 Thomas Hankerson
Thomas Hankerson is a bit of a steal, all things considered. I think he's a walk-on, but he's a 4-to-play-4 juco player out of Hutchinson Community College. Player from Florida? Check. Recruiting attention from Florida schools? FAU, FIU, UCF and USF — check. Good bloodlines? Cousin of Vince Wilfork — check. Badass hair? Check. I think he might see some playing time...
#35 Ian Peters
I'm classifying Ian Peters as a cornerback because I didn't want to stereotype him as a "white boy from Kansas" safety, although it's entirely possible he could end up there. But he was a state qualifier in both the 4x100 and the 4x800, so cornerback is a likely landing spot. He redshirted as a member of the scout team last season, leaving him with four years of eligibility.
#38 Matthew Pearson
Thankfully, losing all the defensive backs we did was offset somewhat by the addition of Matthew Pearson from Hutch CC. He arrived in time for spring practice and started for White squad in the spring game. However, he played safety at the juco level, so there's transition involved here. As a result, I expect Pearson to serve as a quality backup in a four-man rotation this season and secure a starting spot next year.
#41 Charles Melton
Charles Melton redshirted last year after helping Manhattan High win the 2009 state track championship, where he placed second in the 4x100. Seems like a pretty good fit for scout-team cornerback to me.
#43 Marc St. Felix
Marc St. Felix, aside from having a pretty kickass name, is something of an enigma. He has sat out two years, one redshirting and one as a member of the scout team, but he stockpiled some pretty impressive stats as a prep player in Miami. I think we're sufficiently deep at corner this year to once again prevent Marc from seeing the field, but there is an opportunity for him to break into the rotation next season if we continue to have this kind of attrition.
Depth Chart Predictions
- Starters: Stephen Harrison and Terrance Sweeney
- Nickel Back: David Garrett
- Backups: Matthew Pearson and Thomas Hankerson
Other Position Previews
Who do you think the two starting cornerbacks will be Saturday?
Garrett and Harrison (10 votes)
Garrett and Sweeney (4 votes)
Harrison and Sweeney (16 votes)
some other combination (4 votes)
34 total votes