Spring countdown: Cornerbacks

One of the key positions on the Colorado football team where plenty of playing time is up for grabs in 2011 is at cornerback, where the program must replace NFL-bound Buffs Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown. Get a look at the position heading into spring ball inside.

We should note right up front that with defensive coordinator/secondary coach Greg Brown returning to the program and doing the evaluating and coaching, it's entirely possible that players who played conerback last season could be at safety this year and vice versa.

Based on the Colorado depth chart from the end of the 2010 season along with where players said they were practicing, this group of players figure to battle at cornerback in spring ball, with several true freshmen set to join the fray this summer.

Parker Orms, Ayodeji Olatoye, Paul Vigo, Jered Bell, Jonathan Hawkins, Arthur Jaffee, Josh Moten and Mikiri Pugh all should get a chance to prove themselves on the outside.

Greg Brown is a big believer in finding good cover cornerbacks who can handle receivers one-on-one freeing up the other nine defenders.

Senior-to-be Jonathan Hawkins was the most productive member in the group last season, playing in nine games with 15 tackles, one interception and one pass breakup. But Smith and Brown ate most of the playing time in 2010.

Bell, Olatoye and Vigo all played in at least four games and will be looking to build on that experience. All three also fit the mold Greg Brown likes at cornerback. They are each at least 6-foot tall with a long reach and decent ball skills.

Olatoye only played 48 snaps on defense last year but he was fourth in special teams points with 16.

Moten practiced half the season at cornerback and was receiving solid reviews before an off-the-field incident ended his season prematurely. There is a chance he doesn't even play cornerback if he can convince coaches to give him a chance to play quarterback and then prove he belongs in the mix there. If he plays cornerback, don't be surprised to see him in the mix with the group mentioned previously. He also fits the mold.

Orms was the starting nickelback at the outset of last season, his redshirt freshman year, but he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the season opener and continues to rehabilitate. His status for the spring remains unclear. It's likely he will participate in some work but not in contact situations.

Pugh, a transfer from Georgia who will be a junior in the fall, is a wildcard. He is older than most of the others on this list, but is just as limited when it comes to game experience. He played in nine games for the Bulldogs in 2009.

It is also unclear whether the coaches will decide to have Pugh compete at cornerback or safety. He is capable of playing either position and has practiced at both spots during his college career.

Senior Arthur Jaffee also is a Jack of all trades with a lot of experience in practice at both safety and corner. Jaffee might be a starter because he doesn't have the physical abilities of some of the others here, but he is a great safety net to have and also is one of the best special teams players on the team. He led the Buffs with 40 special teams points in 2010.

True freshman Sherrard Harrington, Kyle Washington and Greg Henderson will all likely be involved in competition at cornerback in the fall. It wouldn't be a huge surprise to see one of them earn playing time.

BuffStampede Top Stories