Army Football 2007: Cornerbacks

Give John Laird this, he's fast. Now it's time to see if Laird, a senior, can play cornerback. Laird showed glimpses of promise last season. But this fall he's slated to be the full-time starter. Army will turn to another new starter, Kevin Opoku, at the other corner.

How good they adapt could play a big part in how Army's defense performs this season.

Say this for Laird, wide receivers aren't going to run by him. He's lightning fast, but he still has to make reads and tackles, making sure he doesn't get beat on routes.

Laird likes to hit. That's helped him move up the depth chart. He saw time in Army's nickel package last season.

specializing in the Laird figured his track days were over after he graduated from Park View High School in Sterling, Va., where he played quarterback and strong safety. He set a school-record with 86 tackles as a senior. Laird was also a star on the track, specializing in the sprint, long jump and triple jump events. He set a school record in the 100-meter dash (10.9) as a senior.

Laird began running with Army's track team last winter and it's helped his offseason workouts greatly. More importantly, Laird's helped the Army track team. He was the Patriot League's top-ranked sprinter in the 60 and 200 meters. Let's hope Laird does some sprinting this fall, hitting opponents' end zones with interception returns, with Opoku running right next to him. Or vice versa. Opoku is one of the best success stories at Army in recent memory.

Opoku, a senior, is a walk-on. Like Laird, former Army coach Bobby Ross leaned on Opoku more, he had no choice, when Darren Newson was ruled academically ineligible during last preseason. Opoku hung tough and is expected to be even better this fall.

He and Laird should benefit even more by having strong safety Caleb Campbell and free safety Jordan Murray healthy all season. There are still questions, experience is a big one. Another thing that remains to be seen is if Army still plays soft coverages or becomes more aggressive.

If Army does become more aggressive, it puts more pressure on the corners. Don't expect our guys to break.

Extra points: It should be noted that Opoku and Laird do have capable back-ups that will likely see time this fall. Sophomore Mario Hill backs up Opoku; Hill had an impressive spring camp and opened some eyes. Junior Josh Mitchell, Laird's back-up, is also a player to watch.


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