Position Probe: Cornerback

An in-depth take, position by position, as the Illini transition from spring drills to summer workouts.

What's this depth you speak of?

It's been a frustrating two seasons on defense (and it's still a battle at other areas), but the Illini are building a formidable looking group at the cornerback position.

For a defense that needs to improve by a large margin, it's a nifty start. There's talent at the top and plenty of others pushing to get into the starting lineup.

It's called depth, and while you might not always talk about it when you have it, you certainly notice when you don't.

The Illini have returning starters in Eaton Spence and V'Angelo Bentley, both juniors with still room and time to get better. Bentley gets a lot of attention because of his scoring ability, both on interceptions (like the 80-plus yard spring game return) and on special teams. Bentley deserves all the good publicity he gets, but Spence is a solid contributor who goes about his business with little need for a pat on the back.

With those guys just now hitting their college career prime, would it really be hard to imagine Darius Mosely or Jaylen Dunlap in the starting lineup? Those guys played a bunch as true freshmen and should see even more time this season. Mosely is as athletic as any other player on the roster and Dunlap could be the recruiting steal of the Beckman Era.

To top it off, Caleb Day took to the position well in spring drills after moving from safety. Word is, of all the corners mentioned, if the order was simply to guard a receiver man to man and worry about nothing else, Day is near the top of the list. He's that good in coverage. He's still learning to make reads and everything else the position entails, but he has the cover skills necessary to be a good one. With Dunlap sidelined this spring, Day used the extra reps to impress the staff.

And what did that do? Increase the depth.


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