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2009 Football Position Breakdown: Cornerbacks

AP Photo
AP Photo

Once upon a time, many moons ago, Sports Illustrated dubbed Kansas State as "Cornerback U".  In the past several years, after Terrence Newman won the Thorpe award in 2002 and went off to be a Top 5 draft pick and Pro-Bowler for the Dallas Cowboys, you may as well have called K-State, "Cornerback...who?"

Ever since Newman was drafted in the 2003 NFL Draft, the Wildcats, who had a proud tradition full of All-Conference and All-American corners in the 90's and early 2000's, have only had two first-team or second-team All-Conference corners in the past six years: Cedrick Williams (2003) and Justin McKinney (2007), and both were second-team performers.  Not a single cornerback at Kansas State has been drafted since Newman was selected in 2003, and in the six years prior to that, the Wildcats had six different corners taken in the NFL draft.  So, it's not surprising that the pass defense has been a weakness for the team in the past few years.

With an honorable mention All-Conference performer back to anchor the position, what will the group look like this year?

#22 Thomas Ferguson

Class: True Freshman
Height: 6-1
Weight: 205
Previous Starter (Y/N): No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#27 David Garrett

Class: Sophomore
Height: 5-9
Weight: 185
Previous Starter (Y/N): No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#29 Otis Johnson

Class: Senior
Height: 5-10
Weight: 175
Previous Starter (Y/N): No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#3 Billy McClellan

Class: Senior
Height: 5-8
Weight: 170
Previous Starter (Y/N): No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

#4 Joshua Moore

Class: Junior
Height: 5-11
Weight: 184
Previous Starter (Y/N): Yes (17 games)
Honors: All-Big 12 - Honorable Mention (2008), Freshman All-Big 12 - Honorable Mention (2006), Freshman All-American - Honorable Mention (2006, The Sporting News)
Official Bio

#15 Darious Thomas

Class: True Freshman
Height: 6-0
Weight: 180
Previous Starter (Y/N): No
Honors: N/A
Official Bio

 

Projected Depth Chart:

  • Starters: Joshua Moore, David Garrett
  • Backups: Otis Johnson, Billy McClellan
  • Additional Depth: Darious Thomas, Thomas Ferguson

Justification:

We all know that this position group's success begins and ends with Joshua Moore.  His ability to stay healthy and play at a high level will be absolutely critical to the success of the coming season.  Last year, he lead the team in tackles (76), pass break-ups (12), and interceptions (3).  He was, along with Brandon Harold, the only member of the defense that garnered any sort of post-season accolades. His assignment, each week, will be to cover the opposing team's best receiver, and given the pass-happy orientation of this conference, that will be a tall order.  However, as has already been witnessed in both 2006 and 2008, Josh Moore is up to the task.

On the opposite side of Moore, I expect to see a strong battle between JUCO transfer, David Garrett, and returning senior, Billy McClellan.  According to his bio on the official roster, McClellan is in the thick of it in regards to starting.  However, according to the GoPowercat.com depth chart, he's not in the two deep.  After reading Austin Meek's blog entry from Fan Appreciation Day, McClellan did not practice.  This would lead one to assume that the Spring Game starter, and media guide contender for the other starting position, is most likely injured.  You could postulate that he's no longer on the team, but since he's still on the roster, it's probably a safe bet to put him on the 'injury list' that doesn't exist in the "Snyderverse".  Garrett, a starter for Ft. Scott last year, has been turning heads according to Meek, and considering he's listed as a starter on the GoPowercat.com depth chart (which was a snapshot of what was going on at Fan Appreciation Day), it's probably safe to assume that he'll start at the position as long as McClellan is dinged up.  Depending on how long McClellan is out, Garrett may grab a firm hold on the position and force McClellan to perform most of his action in nickel or dime packages.

Senior Otis Johnson, mostly a special teams contributor over the past three seasons, will most likely be called upon to backup Josh Moore in the event of injury.  Freshmen Thomas Ferguson and Darious Thomas, a late-signee, may get some playing time due to a lack of depth at this position.   Usually, the preference for Snyder is to redshirt any and all freshmen he can, but I don't think he'll be able to with this group, so I'd expect to see them get significant action this year.