The Missouri Tigers enter fall camp with the same top three corners with which they concluded the 2011 season, and with which they began and completed spring football.
That trio of junior E.J. Gaines, senior Kip Edwards, and junior Randy Ponder combined to make 27 starts last season. Gaines was named All-Big 12 First Team, after making 69 total tackles and coming up with 2 interceptions. He also had a school-record 16 pass-break-ups. Edwards garnered 55 total tackles, 1 interception, and had 3 PBUs. Ponder made 37 total tackles, and had 1 interception and 4 PBUs. This is the best trio of corners that Coach Pinkel's had during his time at Missouri.
Projected CB Depth
1 Kip Edwards 6'1" 200 (S)
7 Randy Ponder 5'10" 195 (J)
3 David Johnson 6'0" 180 (RSF)
46 Kevie Defranc 5'9" 170 (RSF)
Justin Gaston 6'0" 190 (F)
Entering fall camp, the likely fourth corner is sophomore Xavier Smith, who saw limited playing time at corner last year, and who saw action in 9 games, primarily playing on special teams. Since the Tigers routinely play three corners, the fourth corner is significant for Missouri's depth in that the fourth guy is the next one in. And, Smith is athletic enough to get the job done.
Of course, he'll be challenged during camp, primarily by a pair of very talented red-shirt freshmen, in David Johnson and Ernest Payton, but also by true freshman John Gibson, who has drawn extensive praise from his teammates during summer workouts.
Johnson, Payton, and Gibson are all very athletic, and they can really run. The repetitions that these young players will be getting during fall camp may very well allow one or more of them to move up the Depth Chart, and to challenge for playing time.
From top to bottom, this is the most talented group of corners that Missouri has had under Coach Pinkel.