Melvin Smith: MSU Cornerbacks

Mississippi State cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith talks about the cornerback position overall, about his players individually and the cornerback newcomers.

How do you feel about the cornerback position?
"I probably feel as good about the cornerback position as I have felt in a long time. We are in better shape than when I first came here because we didn't have any corners. We had (Derek) Pegues, (Keith) Fitzhugh and Jeramie Johnson. They were signed as corners but they weren't corners. You can't play football without corners.

"Now, we have two guys who have played in a game and started in the SEC, so they have experience and they understand how to play. You can't play cornerback if you have never played. It's a different mindset because you are going out there against the other team's best player. You have to have confidence to do that. Do you know how tough it is to play corner when you don't score any points? It's a tough job.

"(Senior) Marcus Washington has played a lot of football. And I think he is a trained cornerback. And what I mean by that is there are a lot of things he may not have done as a cornerback naturally when he was a young kid. So, he learned to play the position. The cornerback position is a skilled, technical position. His skill level, on a scale of 1 to 10 is probably about a 7, maybe an 8. The technical aspect of it, on a scale of 1 to 10 is probably a 9. So, he's technically sound. He has really good ability, he's got the size you want, he's tough, he has experience, he leads by example and he's a good, solid human being. He's about to graduate with a marketing degree, so he's smart. I feel really good about Marcus.

"(Sophomore) Damien Anderson is the best athlete in the group, probably one of the best athletes on the team. I love the way Damien looks. He's a big corner. He played in the rotation last year early on as a redshirt freshman. So, I feel really good about him, where he is, the way he has matured as of late. I told Damien the other day that he reminds me of Walt Harris. And Walt was a first-round draft pick in 1995 and he's still playing (in the NFL). Damien and Walt Harris are the same (type) guy, same physical build.

"(Redshirt freshman) Louis Watson is probably a combination of Damien and Marcus. Louis has really good bloodlines. His daddy was a really good player. His momma was a good athlete. He's a good student. He's a solid guy. I have a lot of good anticipated optimism about him. He's my third corner.

"My fourth corner is (redshirt freshman) Corey Broomfield. Corey is around the ball a lot. He's a playmaker. But he'll make a play for us, then he'll make a play for the opponent. He just needs to be more consistent, and he needs to gain more weight. He has the talent.

"The wildcard is probably (junior college transfer) Maurice Langston because I don't know enough about him.

"A guy who really factors in is (redshirt freshman) Marvin Bure. He is one of the fastest guys on our team. He's a guy who really caught my eye this spring. He can help us.

"If I was putting them in order, I would put them Marcus Washington, Damien Anderson, Louis Watson, Corey Broomfield, Maurice Langston and Marvin Bure, but I really don't know enough about Maurice right now because he wasn't able to go through the spring."

What are your thoughts about the freshmen who will start out playing cornerback?
"We are going to work Jonathan Banks at corner. He's the only one. He is very talented and he's a tall corner. What I like about him is he's really athletic and he is narrow in the hips. But you have to teach them how to play corner or safety. He's been playing safety but he really doesn't know how to play defensive back in college. You have to teach (high school guys) no matter how much they know."

Is it a concern that you don't have any experienced depth at cornerback?
"The cornerback position is not where we want it to be depth-wise, but I think we are able to go to war with what we have. I have three guys who I trust to play in games. And I think Corey is a good player. He has six interceptions in the spring, but he's just inconsistent. I think we could play him in a game. I really think we have five guys who we could play in a game because I think Marvin could play in a game.

"We don't have a Fred Smoot or a Robert Bean. But I don't know who has those kind of guys. Florida has Joe Haden but he's the best corner in the country. And they don't have two guys like him."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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