Whitehead Learning The Ropes At Corner

Freshman defensive back Jermaine Whitehead and junior T'Sharvan Bell talk about the young corners and making the transition from high school.

Auburn, Ala.--With Auburn's third leading tackler from last season, Neiko Thorpe, now playing safety and Demond Washington trying to make it in the NFL, the cornerback position is another of the question marks for the Tigers heading into the 2011 season.

Counting on veteran T'Sharvan Bell to lead a very young, but very talented group, the position has a chance to be a team strength as the year gets into full swing. Right now though it's not a question of having enough players, but about how things will shake out at the position.

"Just to be a part of this group this year is already exciting," Bell said. "I just can't wait to get out there on Sept. 3rd. We want teams to throw the ball so we can broadcast not only what we've been doing during two-a-days, but the whole summer."

Playing in 11 games last season with 38 tackles and one interception, Bell has been mostly a nickel back in his career, but has transitioned well to a full-time cornerback this preseason. Forced into that role last season because of injuries and a lack of depth, he's pulling double duty as a corner and nickel back this preseason along with freshman Jermaine Whitehead.

A physical player who has the size and speed to be an immediate contributor, Whitehead is following in the footsteps of Bell in his first preseason camp at Auburn and he is already making waves along with fellow freshmen Jonathan Rose and Robenson Therezie at cornerback and Erique Florence at safety. Bell said he's been impressed by all of the talented newcomers.

"I definitely try to take them under my wing," the junior said. "It's not just him, but a lot of the other guys like Cadillac (Robenson Therezie) and Erique Florence. They are all so eager to learn and have tons of talent. I just try to take them day-by-day, one step at a time, of how to go through the progression of a play by getting your alignment and assignment. Then just give great effort.

"They pick things up fast," Bell added. "They pick things up faster than I did when I got here. They come in and Coach tells them what they need to fix and he doesn't have to go back to it. As a unit they roll in packs. They stick together and talk football amongst each other."

Trying to make some noise with sophomores Chris Davis and Ryan White along with redshirt freshman Jonathon Mincy also in the mix at corner, Whitehead said so far things have been going well as he tries to adjust to the college game.

"I think it's going good," said Whitehead, a highly-regarded recruit out of Elzy High in Mississippi. "It's a lot faster paced. I'm trying to step up to the plate and learn as much as I can as quick as I can...it's just the speed for me. My high school, we didn't go as fast, but it's just the pace. I think I'm coming along."

In addition to the speed of the game on the college level, one of the toughest things to learn for a freshman is to be physical. It's not just the case for the linemen on the both sides of the ball, it's something guys in the secondary deal with as well. Bell said playing physical football is something he had to learn as a young player at Auburn and Whitehead said he has already improved in that area.

"I think I'm way more physical," Whitehead said. "I'll stick my nose in there now. I think it's from watching the older guys at corner and how they get in there. If it's a run we're coming. In high school I kind of let it come to me. Now we go get it."

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