Muschamp Comfortable with CBs

When an all-American player suddenly leaves your team unexpectedly, it is going to hurt. Despite the loss of Janoris Jenkins to off-the-field issues, Will Muschamp feels okay about his situation at cornerback, but knows some young guys need to step up a bit in the absence of the star player. You aren't seeing any worry from the first year coach of the Gators.

When Will Muschamp announced the parting of Janoris Jenkins last week it was a shock to everyone involved simply because of the star caliber of the player. According to Muschamp, he and Jenkins met and discussed a few things before the two finally decided to part ways.

"I have addressed that situation and it isn't easy," Muschamp said to the media gathered in Orlando at a speaking engagement and rightfully guarded about talking too much about the personal matter. "We presented some options and that is the way it went. It just didn't work out."

He wouldn't discuss what was said at the meeting.

"I am not going to address exactly what happened in the meeting," he said. "We moved on from that and that is where we are at."

Muschamp made it clear that the recent incidents involving marijuana and his football team do not represent a pattern within the team.

"I think it is all isolated situations and I have said that before," he said. "I think we have a good situation going and we have a good football team. Some guys make poor decisions and it shouldn't reflect on the whole team."

Regardless, as a new coach, he still understands that he is in charge of a group of young people that are just becoming young men and have a lot to learn about life and the consequences of their actions.

"We are constantly in the mental conditioning stage with our football team with making good choices and decisions, it is a constant effort," he said. "When you are dealing with young people, that is (something that is) never going to change."

With this situation behind them, the position itself now draws the attention of the coaching staff and the fans. Muschamp believes the Gators will be fine in the secondary.

Sophomore Jaylen Watkins spent some time at safety in the spring and so he may now see more time at cornerback. He has four main guys that he will count on early in the fall.

"Jaylen Watkins has played both positions, he said. "The freshmen will always get an opportunity if they are good enough and can help us win football games. Jeremy Brown, Moses Jenkins, Cody Riggs, and Jaylen Watkins are the four guys and Pop Saunders did a nice job in the spring."

There was a little mention of possibly moving Robert Clark to cornerback, a position he excelled at in high school. However, Muschamp likes what Clark brings to the table on offense and feels okay about the talent at cornerback.

"I feel comfortable about where we are," he said. "I think going into the spring with a lot of the unknowns. Bobby (Clark) does a nice job in the return game and on special teams and at wide out, and I feel very comfortable about where we are at cornerback."

Jeremy Brown is expected to start in the fall and his ability to last is going to be something that comes up constantly. The owner of a chronic back injury, Brown will get special treatment from the staff as they move through drills in the fall.

"We have to manage Jeremy and be very smart in training camp," Muschamp said. "He has a chronic back deal and that is something we can manage him through that. We have to make sure he gets good tackling work and make sure he isn't at risk to hurt his back. That is something we have to be smart with as a staff as we approach training camp. We will be fine and I will take the guys we have."

Rather than asking for these guys to step up as leaders, Muschamp recognizes that for the most part, the cornerbacks are just asked to go out and play. It is the safeties in the secondary that need to help lead the defense.

"I will take leadership from all of them," Muschamp said. "You have to look at a Matt Elam and a Josh Evans… those guys need to step forward. Generally cornerback is not a position that provides leadership. Those guys just need to prepare themselves and have a great summer."

Muschamp also made it quite clear that freshmen cornerbacks Pop Saunders, Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson, and Valdez Showers are all going to be put to the test and given a chance to help their team.

"I think it is important for all of them to step up," he said of the guys that will spend their first fall on campus starting in September. "Whoever those guys will be we look forward to playing them and get positive play out of them for the Gators. I don't necessarily look at them being freshman or senior or whoever it is. I want somebody to step up and play well and I think they will."

He still likes the group he has moving forward, even before the freshmen arrive.

"I think we have some talented guys, some that haven't played as much as others, but some guys that I certainly would feel comfortable with playing in the SEC," he said.


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