Does Washington have a true Pac 10 cornerback on its roster?
That is one of the things the coaches will be seriously looking at this spring. They need to identify the players fast enough running forwards and backwards who can play this position. CB's traditionally are among the fastest players on the roster.
You would like these guys to be able to run under 4.5 and be able to run almost as fast backpedaling. Everyone wants tall CB's who can do that but since there aren't a lot of those guys around a big leaper will do. Vertical leaping ability is a big part of the equation when you are evaluating a CB.
Quinton Richardson, Mesphin Forrester, and Matt Mosley picked up most of the starts last season. They all had one thing in common and that is they are not ideal Pac 10 CB's.
Forrester who graduated was a tweener. Not physical enough at safety and too slow for the corner. At best Mesphin was a credible nickle back. Matt Mosley played well at the end of the year but is a shade or too slow for the position. Matt is a good athlete who started at TB and spent some time at WR before heading over to help on defense. He lacks the speed to be a lockdown CB in this league.
So what are the coaches going to do this spring to sort it out?
One of the answers will be JC Transfer Dominque Gaisie. He is a little small but he has the speed, hops, and attitude to play the position. Look for him to earn a starting job when he arrives this fall. He was coached by new CB coach Demetrice Martin at Mt. SAC so he already has an in.
Who plays on the other side is not so clear. Vonzell McDowell, and Matt Mosley return and on paper would have the edge with their experience. Justin Glenn, and Adam Long will be in the mix after red shirting last season. Both of these kids have the size, speed, and raw tools you need to play this position. They just might be able to leap frog the more experienced kids ahead of them. If they do it is a good sign because we already know what Mosley and McDowell can do.
Anthony Gobern who gray shirted with a shoulder injury last season will play for the first time this spring. The former HS TB has the tools to play the position. As a TB he reminded me a lot of David Freeman. We all know how agile Freeman is.
On the recruiting front the Huskies bring in the top HS CB in the state from last season in Desmond Trufant who will likely spend next season learning and getting stronger. He has great bloodlines being the brother of Seahawk Marcus Trufant who attended WSU.
What about Quinton Richardson? I think the injury to S Jason Wells has sealed the probable move back to safety position where he belongs. I think Richardson has great potential and the year spent at CB wasn't wasted because of the coverage techniques he had to develop.
Richardson when recruited was targeted as growing into a LB. He ended up being a lot faster than anyone thought. That of course doesn't mean the 6'2 220 pound athlete is a cornerback.
In conclusion Washington's pass defense was one of the worst in the country last year. It was evident that last years coaching staff didn't have the answers at CB. The new staff needs some new talent to emerge to have success.
The hope is that Gaisie will lock down one of the positions and someone else in the pack will emerge this spring to take over the other side.
I think opportunity is really knocking for Glenn and Long this spring. Long may be the fastest player on the team. Glenn was the best HS cornerback in the Northwest when he was recruited. Both of these kids are going to be in the mix this spring for a lot of playing time.
Time may be running out on the other hand for Vonzell McDowell who played way too early after starting the first four games of 2007. This is a make or break year for him. Vonzell needs to show the coaches something or he could be somewhere else in 2010.
Possible position changes? They would have to come from either WR or TB and I really don't see anyone who jumps out at me. Once again the coaches know best so we will see how they shuffle the roster this spring.