Cornerback Preview

At times the Seminole secondary struggled to maintain consistency during the 2003 season by allowing the opposition 332 yards through the air. This upcoming season there could be a considerable upgrade due to a nice mixture of experience and young talent. Today we'll focus on the cornerbacks in the Tribe's secondary.

Last year as a junior Bryant McFadden had a very solid season as a first year starter. Unfortunately, the 6-foot-0 and 180 pound standout missed the last couple of regular season games due to a groin/hip flexor injury. His strength on the field is his physical nature, which allows him to bump the wide receiver off the line of scrimmage effectively. With a healthy senior season the former Hollywood (Fla.) McArthur star should contend for all-acc honors. As a junior McFadden recorded 28 tackles and nine pass breakups.

Leroy Smith, who checks in at 5-foot-10 and 179 pounds, will most likely replace Stanford Samuels at the right cornerback position. As an underclassman Smith has been an effective backup who has seen a lot of time on the field. His strength on the gridiron is his instincts. As a junior he shared with Pat Watkins the team lead with three interceptions on the season.

Antonio Cromartie, the former USA Today Defensive Player of Year in high school, is expected to push for a starting position and he is a lock to see significant time on field as a sophomore. As a true freshman the former Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln standout flashed signs of greatness. His strengths on the field are his nice mixture of size (6-foot-3 and 200 pounds) and speed (4.4). There will be very few wide receivers that he'll have a problem matching up with the field. As a true freshman, Cromartie recorded 17 tackles; two passes breakups and one interception. He also had a 23.8 average on 21 kickoff returns.

Gerard Ross, who will be a redshirt junior for the upcoming season, has spent the past two seasons mainly on special teams due to being buried on the depth chart and catching up from a knee injury that he sustained early in his college career. He also has bounced back and forth between safety and corner. It looks like he'll settle into the cornerback position. The former high school All-American from Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian Academy has the size (6-foot-2 and 187 pounds) and athletic ability to make a huge impact.

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