Spring Review: Cornerbacks

"When we first got to Oklahoma State we met each other and became friends," junior cornerback Ashton Lampkin said for about the fourth time during spring practice. "He is my best friend and we said we would have the day where we looked across the field at each other." Lampkin is talking about classmate and fellow Cowboys cornerback Kevin Peterson, and that day has come.

Peterson got a head start by earning the starting job last season after he played in all 13 games and saw significant time as a freshman. Peterson has gained a reputation for being one of the best cover cornerbacks in the Big 12. He is seemingly like glue in working on an opposing receiver.

Last season, he had two interceptions and both were on deep balls. By the time the pass was delivered downfield Peterson seemed more like the intended receiver than the defender.

Two different offensive coordinators in the Big 12 both told me that Peterson was a guy they identified in video that they preferred not to throw at. That showed up as prospective first-round NFL Draft pick Justin Gilbert earned All-American honors with seven interceptions and had way more chances than Peterson.

Lampkin spent more time making tackles and influencing plays on special teams, and the coaches felt Lampkin was the best they had on cover units. In the Cotton Bowl against a stout receiver corps with Missouri, injuries led to Lampkin playing a lot of snaps and he handled it just fine.

The roster lists both of the Cowboys corners at 5-11, and Peterson at 185 pounds and Lampkin at 180. Physically, they resemble each other in size and body, but Lampkin has a number of tattoos and Peterson none that you can see.

Lampkin's background is out of Fort Worth Dunbar High School, a predominant school with minority students. Peterson knows that background some from his time growing up in New Orleans, but he escaped following Hurricane Katrina and finished his high school years in the small Green Country town of Wagoner. Peterson dominated in football (winning a state championship) and in track (including the 100 meters).

They say opposites attract. Well, Peterson and Lampkin aren't opposites but they are tight, and together they will form one of the best corner tandems in college football. That last line is a prediction.

Now, as for the back-ups, you can look at veteran Miketavius Jones. A junior, he redshirted his first season out of powerhouse North Shore High School in Houston.

Honestly, the three juniors are a good head start because the youth is up next with Darius Curry (6-1, 190), Jerel Morrow (6-0, 180), and Taylor Lewis (6-0, 180) all primed and ready to help. All three are red shirt freshmen from the 2013 class and all three made good improvement in the spring.

It was easy to see the improvement every day. A move that worked for a receiver one day against the younger trio didn't work as well or at all the next practice. They were soaking up the reps and the knowledge they brought like a sponge. They were also getting lots of tutoring by Peterson, Lampkin and Jones.

Lewis is maybe the best pure cover corner in that trio but the size of Curry and the way he can muscle up opposing receivers is an interesting proposition. Morrow is extremely athletic and has an excellent vertical to climb for the football.

Two areas where all three can improve is in reading routes and in knowing when to come off the receiver and play the ball. That is always one of the hardest lessons learned.

A little experience, a lot of athletic ability, a little bit of size, and some definite inexperience make up the corners. I'm really not scared of the inexperience as those young pups will get better working under Peterson, Lampkin and Jones.

I'm predicting the cornerback position will be a position of strength in the upcoming season.

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