Predicting the Starters: Cornerbacks

After losing Joe Haden to the NFL, the Gators now push Janoris Jenkins into the role of shutdown cornerback. His move up does open up a spot as the second cornerback, and it could be the most heated position battle in the fall.

Janoris Jenkins has locked down one cornerback position. This will be his third straight season as a starter for the Gators, after starting as a freshman when the Gators won the national championship in 2008. Statistically, Jenkins' numbers were down in 2009, but that may have been more about the position he played on the field.

Jenkins had two interceptions and six pass breakups in 2009. As a freshman in 2008, Jenkins had three interceptions and 11 pass breakups.

Jenkins played field cornerback position as a sophomore, which often had him lined up the furthest away from the ball. Joe Haden played the boundary cornerback position, which had him covering the receiver on the short side of the field. Haden played the field cornerback during his sophomore season, while Jenkins lined up as the boundary cornerback and was a Freshman All-American.

Jenkins will line up as the boundary cornerback in 2010, and could experience the type of season that skyrocketed Haden to the top cornerback selected in the NFL Draft.

The spring was successful for Jenkins. Head coach Urban Meyer often holds key players out because he doesn't need them to prove anything, and Jenkins was one of those. He did participate in most practices. He looked trimmed down and faster than in previous seasons. Sometimes it looked like Jenkins was going through the motions and taking drills lightly, but that is just how fluid he is at the position.

The second cornerback position could be the biggest position battle of the spring. Moses Jenkins and Jeremy Brown will compete for the spot with the three freshmen, Cody Riggs, Joshua Shaw and Jaylen Watkins.

Moses Jenkins started the spring as the second cornerback. His 6-2, 188-pound frame gives him a height advantage over most receivers he covers. He served as a key to Florida's kickoff coverage units last season, and after he had a concussion, Coach Meyer constantly referred to Jenkins' return as a key to the special teams unit.

He played well during the first few weeks of practice but trailed off near the end. Of course, his disappearance near the end of practice could be tied to the emergence of redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown.

Brown couldn't play during his first two seasons on campus because of a back injury that sometimes made it difficult for him to walk. He talked this spring of times where he couldn't sleep because of a bulging disk that made even the most routine things close to impossible.

After the first few days of practice, Brown said he was just happy to be out running around with the team. Soon he was jumping up the depth chart. By the end of the spring, Brown was working out with the first team across from Janoris Jenkins.

If he can keep his health in line, Brown could be the cornerback who starts opposite of Jenkins during the season.

Watkins and Shaw both enrolled early to participate in spring practice. Each mentioned during the recruiting process that fighting for an open cornerback spot was a large reason they chose Florida. As expected with freshmen, their play was hit or miss.

Watkins was the more consistent of the two. Quarterbacks picked on Shaw during the spring game, but his practices were better than he showed in front of a stadium full of people.

Riggs got to campus weeks ago, but he is already drawing rave reviews. His 5-9 height works against him, but the St. Thomas Aquinas graduate is talented enough to see the field this year, even if it is on special teams.

PREDICTED STARTING CORNERBACKS: Janoris Jenkins and Jeremy Brown

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