Position battle: Cornerback

Arizona will have plenty of competition at cornerback next season. Read on to see the contenders, favorites to start, and more.

Arizona actually has some depth at cornerback going into the season, but there is still somewhat of an open competition, as there are not two players that are clearly standing out above the rest. Here is a closer look at the position:

Jourdon Grandon: Grandon saw much of his time at free safety last season, totaling 55 tackles as he started 9 of 12 games. He may still stay at free safety, but Grandon has been experimenting at corner as well, as he saw some time there in the spring. He is a physical corner and has some talent, but there is still some adjusting to do. At this point, we have difficulty seeing him start, but Grandon is going to see plenty of time on the field one way or another.

Jonathan McKnight: McKnight started nine games last season, but you still never got the feeling that he was completely healthy, especially at the end of the season. The talent is definitely there and from that perspective, he is probably the best corner on the roster. However, he has to translate that talent into production and one of the major ways to do that is by staying healthy.

If McKnight is able to remain in good health, we like his chances. He is a strong, physical corner that is good at tackling as well. McKnight has a good nose for the ball and Arizona lack of depth on defense will need a player like him that can cause turnovers and make things happen. Again, if McKnight is healthy, he has a good chance of starting.

Richard Morrison: In a way, playing cornerback is the last hope for Morrison, who has moved all over the field. He does have the talent to play on the defensive side of the ball and has shown some skill at corner, but it is going to be difficult for him to see the field a lot. Starting seems out of the question at this point, but a strong summer can vault him into the rotation.

Morrison volunteered to play corner because he feels he can succeed there and the opportunity for playing time is larger. It will be interesting to see how far he has come this summer and if he is able to bump off any of the other guys.

Derrick Rainey: Rainey started six games last season and finished with 46 tackles while doing so. He will be right in the thick of things and has come a long way since arriving to campus. The change in coaching staff has been good for Rainey, as he was able to start with a clean slate last season. There is potential there and although Rainey is not very fast, he displayed solid ball skills last season. He is going to be given every opportunity to start and even if he does not, Rainey is going to see the field enough to contribute.

Shaquille Richardson: Richardson takes a lot of criticism from Arizona fans, but he did look just fine at numerous points last season. At the end of the season, it was revealed that Richardson was hurt and he underwent surgery in order to be ready for this upcoming season. It will be interesting to see just how much Richardson's improvement in health can help him on the field. There is talent there, although his ability to stay with a quarterback fake or with receivers on deep routes have left something to be desired.

Richardson actually broke up 14 passes last season, but the ones he let up going more attention. There are worse corners to have on a roster than Richardson and he is going to play plenty next season. In addition, Richardson will be given the opportunity to start and has a good chance of getting it.

Devin Holiday: Holiday is going to contribute plenty at Arizona, but it may not be right away. He could use a redshirt year to get stronger and with Arizona having some depth at corner, it makes sense for Holiday's career to let him do that. Of course, he could come in and prove to be too valuable, which is something the coaches would love to see.

Derek Babiash: Babiash is more physically ready to play than Holiday, but he still has raw elements to his game. The idea situation is to redshirt Babiash and that seems likely to happen, but he is very talented and could make things interesting. Out of all the freshmen that will be arriving to campus, Babiash has as good of a chance as any to make the coaching staff think twice about redshirting him.


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