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Position battle update: Cornerback

3/22/2012

While the Sooners are on spring break this week, SoonerNation will update readers on five position battles this spring. For today: Cornerback.

The competition to start at cornerback opposite Demontre Hurst could be the most interesting position battle of the spring at Oklahoma.

“There are two corners who have to play,” Hurst said. “So me and the other guy will have to step up and make plays to make a great impression on the coaches.”

Aaron Colvin could end up being the best option opposite Hurst, particularly with new defensive coordinator Mike Stoops’ desire to play Tony Jefferson at safety. But Colvin, who tied for the team lead in tackles in 2011, is out for the spring while recovering from shoulder surgery.

Thus, Stoops isn’t ready to say what position he expects the junior to play.

“I have to see Aaron in person to have a better idea where he can serve best in this defense,” Stoops said.

Several candidates are vying for the other cornerback position this spring. Junior Gabe Lynn, junior college transfer Kass Everett, junior Joe Powell and senior Lamar Harris are among the players battling to start. But they have a long ways to go.

“Our young corners need a lot of work,” Stoops said. “We have to continue to get better at the other corner position.”

Everett was signed to provide depth and compete for the starting spot and he has impressed with his willingness to be physical during the first two weeks of practice.

“He’s strong, real athletic and he can move,” Hurst said. “He has all the tools to be a good cornerback.”

Lynn served as the Sooner's No. 3 cornerback in 2011, behind Hurst and Jamell Fleming, and there was plenty of good, bad and ugly for the then-sophomore. He’ll improve greatly under new defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, particularly with additional practice reps.

“Now that he’s getting more reps, I can trust him now,” safety Tony Jefferson said. “He knows his keys and everything, Gabe is an excellent ball player.”

Early this spring, a potential dark horse candidate has emerged in Joe Powell. The junior has played offense and defense during his first two seasons in Norman. He’s one of the most athletic competitors for the starting spot and seems to be getting more comfortable with the techniques and fundamentals of the cornerback position.

Harris has terrific size at 6-foot-1, 187 pounds, but hasn’t made a impact on defense during his first three seasons on campus. Julian Wilson, a redshirt sophomore, also brings good size (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) but hasn’t earned significant time on defense. Redshirt freshman Bennett Okotcha could figure into the mix at cornerback or safety but he, too, is recovering from a shoulder injury.

No matter how well OU’s inexperienced cornerbacks progress this spring, it’s unlikely anyone seizes the starting spot without the coaching staff giving Colvin the opportunity to compete for the position in August.