Navy Spring Review: Cornerback

Navy recently completed its spring drills. GoMids.com’s Jim Lawler will now review every Midshipmen position and name a starter, a backup and a third string player to watch. In this segment he reviews cornerbacks.

LEFT CORNERBACK
Starters: Brandon Clements Jr.
Backups: Elijah Merchant So.
Third String: Shelley White Sr.

Junior Brandon Clements has started the last 20 games at left cornerback since his plebe season. He made 58 tackles while knocking down four passes last year. Clements is a very good cover corner with excellent feet and speed. He has improved and become a lot more physical player than when I first saw him at NAPS. I had thought he was more of a pure cover corner but that hasn't been the case at Navy. He's done a nice job making tackles in the open field. Last year he didn't make as many plays on the ball as he did as a plebe when he picked off three passes. Clements was somewhat overlooked, due to him not picking off a pass, after being named first team All-East in 2013. I thought he was a better all-round player last year.

Sophomore Elijah Merchant (5-10”, 196) moved up to second string off a nice performance this spring. Merchant is a familiar last name to most Navy fans. His brother Emmett Merchant was an outstanding safety for the Midshipmen (2008-2010) before a concussion ended his career during his senior season. I thought Elijah was the best defensive back at NAPS in 2013. He played safety like his brother and was an impact player. He is a good athlete who runs and leaps well. He has high jumped 6-10” as a high school track athlete. He’s still raw as a cornerback since he was mostly a running back in high school but the skill set is definitely there to develop into a fine player.

Backup left cornerback Shelley White (5-10”, 190) is a senior and a local product from Maryland. He decided to stay close to home and play for Navy. White is the son of DeDe Duncan-White who is Navy's assistant athletic director for academic support services. Shelley was bypassed by the more talented Merchant this spring. He played in the last 12 games of 2014 season, mostly on special teams, and made eight tackles. White played SAM safety at the Naval Academy Prep School in 2011 but after joining the Mids the staff moved him to cornerback. White can play either cornerback spot.

RIGHT CORNERBACK
Starters: Quincy Adams Sr.
Backups: Cameron Bryant Jr.
Or Backup: Kyle Battle Jr.

Cornerback Quincy Adams (5-11", 195) has quietly developed into one of the Mids better defensive players. The senior Adams always has the size, speed and quick feet you want in a Navy cornerback. Quincy is well built, tough, physical and a good tackler. He's worked hard to improve his technique and develop his coverage skills. He earned honorable mention All-FBS Independent last year. Last fall he started every game making 75 tackles and picking off a pass, knocking down nine passes, forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble. Adams always had the physical attributes for an FBS cornerback but his backpedal wasn't very fluid at NAPS. He's improved every year and has earned three varsity letters.

Cameron Bryant is battling for the backup right cornerback spot. Bryant, a junior, has filled out his frame and added eleven pounds since I-day. He appeared on special teams last season. In 2012 Bryant was in the cornerback rotation at the Naval Academy Prep School and saw plenty of playing time. I remember him as an aggressive and very physical cornerback at NAPS. Bryant is surprisingly strong for his size and has 4.6 speed in the forty yard dash. He is solid in coverage but he can be a little stiff in the hips out of his backpedal in coverage.

Junior Kyle Battle is listed as co-backup with Bryant. Battle was a former direct admit from Belton, Texas. The rangy Battle has played on the JV team as a plebe and saw his his varsity action when he appeared in the VMI game last fall. Battle, at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, offers nice size for a Navy cornerback. He had been timed in the 4.6-4.8 range at high school combines.

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