Cornhuskers Have Familiar Faces for AU CB

Auburn cornerback Jonathan Wilhite talks about the Nebraska offense and two Cornhuskers he played with in junior college.

Dallas, Tex.--Even though Tommy Tuberville has not faced a Big XII team during his eight-year tenure at Auburn, cornerback Jonathan Wilhite is already very familiar with a pair of players he will be lining up against on Jan. 1 in the Cotton Bowl.

Cornhusker quarterback Zac Taylor started his career at Wake Forest before transferring to play at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan., for the 2004 season. Already at Butler when he transferred were Wilhite and current Nebraska wide receiver Frantz Hardy.

"We had a little function Tuesday night at the hotel and we talked," Wilhite says of Taylor. "We were good friends in junior college. I talked to him and other guys. He said some positive things and told me it's his last year and he's trying to go out with a bang.

"I talk to him every once in a while," Wilhite continues. "I talked to him at the beginning of the season, but I'm not as close to him as I am the receiver, Frantz Hardy. We talk all the time."

Wilhite talks with ITAT's Stephen Atkinson following practice in Dallas.

As junior college teammates being recruited by many of the same schools, Hardy and Wilhite took their official visits to Auburn on the weekend that the Tigers beat Georgia 24-6 in a battle of Top 10 teams.

The atmosphere that weekend was enough for Wilhite to eventually sign with Auburn, but with Taylor already committed to Nebraska the Cornhuskers made a late push for Hardy and were able to land 6-1, 180-pound receiver.

As a senior Taylor has a 149.44 rating and has thrown for 3,071 yards and 25 touchdowns.

"I've talked to Coach about him," Wilhite notes. "He's a great guy. When I look at him on film I see that he's improved a lot and he can make some of the harder throws that a lot of quarterbacks can't make. And he can scramble so gives him the edge so we've got to contain him and just be able to play down field and stay in coverage."

Hardy has caught just 14 passes this season, but averages a team-leading 22.6 yards per reception and has three touchdowns.

"In a couple of games some teams gave up some big plays and they've got a couple of big-play receivers that give our secondary a big challenge," Wilhite says. "We're always looking for that and we face that all the time in the SEC. It'll be good experience to play against a Nebraska team. They had some teams that I looked at when I was young and just getting to play against them is a blessing."

Coach Bill Callahan implements many of the same offensive principles that Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges has at Auburn, but Wilhite says Nebraska's West Coast offense is tweaked a bit differently from Auburn's and the run/pass balance is what makes it tougher than some of the offenses the Tigers have faced this season.

"They've got that West Coast offense and they got their own style," Wilhite explains. "It's definitely going to be something we haven't seen this year in the SEC, so it'll be a good challenge for us. They have a good running attack and Ole Miss had a good running attack. They're similar in the passing game to LSU. Like I said, we're playing against a good team.

"This is one of those games," Wilhite adds, "that if we don't come with our A-game we could lose."

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