Tuesday, January 28, 2014
State of the position: Cornerback
By Brandon Chatmon
In the weeks leading into signing day, it’s a great time to take a position-by-position glance at Oklahoma’s returning roster. This series, called State of the Position, will look at the playmakers, up-and-comers and current commitments or targets at each position for the Sooners as recruiting really heats up during these final weeks before signing day on Feb. 5. On Tuesday, we take a closer look at the cornerback position.
Cornerback Zack Sanchez, who earned a starting spot as a freshman, has a bright future for the Sooners.
Sanchez had ups and downs during his redshirt season but started all 13 games as his competitiveness never wavered. He gave up big plays against Kansas State and Alabama, then bounced back to make key interceptions against both squads. He was picked on throughout the season but matured into a key player on at the end of his first college season. Sanchez led the squad with 13 pass breakups, twice as many as any other Sooner.
Taylor started the third game of his college career against Tulsa and held up well. The Sooners will be looking for him to help fill the void left by two-time All-Big 12 cornerback Aaron Colvin. Taylor mentored under Colvin in 2013 and should be ready for a bigger role in the defense.
Johnson started against Kansas State and played a backup role in 2013, finishing with 16 tackles. He should compete to replace Colvin and earn more playing time as a junior.
Austin saw limited duty as a freshman, playing in four games and recording four tackles. He’s undersized but competitive with good coverage skills, so he could factor into the plans in 2014.
Daniel Brooks, a sophomore, is a small, quick prospect who has played multiple positions and bounced around from offense to defense during his first two years on campus, but he has the talent to work himself into a role.
On the recruiting trail: Tito Windham (Gulfport, Miss./Harrison Central)
The Sooners are confident they’ve found a hidden gem in Windham. They ventured into SEC country to find the Mississippi native. He can play a lot of different positions but appears destined to play cornerback. He’ll need some time to get used to playing corner, but he has the physical gifts to excel as early as 2014.
Overall Grade: A-
It will be impossible to replace Colvin, but the Sooners do return three cornerbacks who started games in 2013. Taylor, who has arguably the best upside of the group, was placed under Colvin’s wing as a freshman and gives OU a potential star at the spot. Johnson, Austin and Windham are talented and can provide quality depth.