Cornerback / Field Safety
Ideal Scholarship Roster Number: 10-11
Potential Returning Number: 4-5 (Armand Perry, Maurice Chandler, Kareem Orr, Chase Lucas, Chad Adams*)
*Adams is perhaps better suited to play Bandit
Likely Returning Number: 4-5
2017 Commitments: 4 (Alex Perry, Langston Frederick, Darien Cornay, Kobe Williams)
Remaining target number: 1-2
In spring football Arizona State had just three scholarship players practicing between its two cornerback positions. At least three different walk-ons took reps with the second-team. Returning start Kareem Orr is the lone proven commodity at the position but Orr was hurt and out or limited at times last year as a sophomore. He wore a green non-contact jersey throughout spring football.
Redshirt freshman Chase Lucas took most of the first-team reps opposite Orr at the other cornerback spot this spring ahead of senior Maurice Chandler. That battle figures to continue into preseason camp and could expand beyond the two players.
Four-star Bishop Gorman cornerback Alex Perry is a candidate to push Lucas and Chandler, and several others may as well. The Sun Devils also signed high school cornerback Langston Frederick on National Signing Day, and weeks later added Cerritos College defensive back Darien Cornay, a player with four years of remaining eligibility.
Now the Sun Devils have signed a second Southern California based four to play three junior college player, Long Beach City College cornerback Kobe Williams. Cornay and Williams both have a redshirt year available as their disposal. At a minimum they'll provide competitive depth for the program in the fall. Potentially, one or both could challenge for playing time on a shallow two-deep, or even wind up with a starting nod. Not only are the Sun Devils thin at cornerback, they are at field safety as well, where Armand Perry missed the spring following surgery.
There are some things about Williams that are pretty intriguing. He's very young for his class, a player who didn't even turn 18 until November of his freshman season of junior college football. He played against high level talent at Long Beach Poly. He was productive as a freshman in college, earning first-team all-league honors within his conference, and all-state recognition. He is a player who would have certainly had a lot more recruiting attention and scholarship offers had he played a second season at Long Beach.
So ASU is hoping to be ahead of the curve on this recruitment, and that could well be the case. Williams has good quickness and change of direction for a college cornerback prospect. He transitions from a retreating posture to attacking sharp angled routes with impression recognition and closing quickness. He also has good ball skills and a competitive disposition at the ball's arrival. He has shown the ability to adjust off of his assignment to make a play on the ball, when prudent.
Versatility is also a strength for Williams. Though he doesn't have a fully developed backpedal and will need to work on eye discipline, Williams has the athletic traits to enable playing in the full spectrum of coverages at cornerback. He's going to be able to play more conservative zones in off or press, or be able to handle Cover 0 situations, and everything in between, at least in terms of the range and coverage demands.
The concerns about Williams are primarily related to size and physical stature and how those factors could potentially be limiting. An ASU source said Williams measures 5-foot-9 and a half inches and weighs in the 175 pound range. Even if that's accurate and not at all inflated, it's a little shorter and more slightly built than you'd like your corners to be in the Pac-12.
Williams at times is able to get off or circumvent blocks and and make plays on screen throws into the flat, but it's inconsistent. He's also shown getting washed off the line of scrimmage on these concepts. There's also going to be some challenges from a length and strength standpoint when working against receivers at the line of scrimmage in bump techniques.
It's in these areas where Williams' lack of refinement is clearest. This is a player who has the potential to play effectively in the Pac-12, but there's still a lot of skill development to be realized between now and then. He has enough natural ability though, when considering his young age and good instincts, that he's a very reasonable addition, especially given ASU's overall challenges in the secondary.