A veteran coach who has specialized in secondary play at stops such as Georgia and most recently Oklahoma, Martinez joined the Tigers in the spring soon after close friend Brian VanGorder took over as Auburn's defensive coordinator. Known for producing outstanding secondary play, Martinez has plenty of talented to work with at cornerback in 2012.
Leading the way is junior Chris Davis. Fourth on the team in tackles last season with 60 total stops, Davis broke up four passes and forced a fumble in 11 games in 2011.
His best game came in his last performance as he was all over the field in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl win over Virginia, earning defensive MVP honors with eight tackles and a forced fumble in the win. He looks to be poised to take a huge step forward and be the physical cornerback the Tigers have been searching for.
While Davis is a solid starter on one side, the other side is wide open after senior T'Sharvan Bell missed spring practice following knee surgery near the end of the 2011 season. Without Bell on the field true sophomore Robenson Therezie took advantage of the opportunity and moved up to the first team. Showing explosiveness and a knack for being around the ball, the player known as "Cadillac" by his teammates could make it tough for Bell to take the starting job back.
T'Sharvan Bell makes a tackle against Georgia
One thing Bell has going for him is experience. Seventh on the team in tackles last season with 45 stops despite only playing in 10 games before being injured against Georgia, Bell had two interceptions, one sack and seven passes broken up in 2011. For his career Bell has started 13 games and appeared in 34 contests overall. Coach Gene Chizik says he is excited how well the senior is rehabbing from knee surgery that caused him to miss the contact portions of spring drills.
Along with defensive end, cornerback may be Auburn's deepest position in 2012 with sophomore Jonathan Mincy expected to back up Davis on one side while Ryan White and Jonathan Rose could provide more depth for the Tigers behind the top four. Throw in versatile sophomore Jermaine Whitehead, who got a look at both safety and nickel cornerback in the spring, and you have the makings of an all-out war for playing time in 2012.
That's not including incoming freshmen Josh Holsey, Jonathan Jones, and T.J. Davis. While Davis could play cornerback or safety for the Tigers, there is no question that both Holsey and Jones will jump into the mix for playing time right away because of their combination of speed and athleticism.
With the depth already at the position they may be able to redshirt, which would help them down the road, but Chizik has shown the propensity to play freshmen in the past and both could follow that path this season if they prove to be good enough.