Cowboys Depth In Focus: Cornerbacks

Oklahoma State fans are excited about having Mason Rudolph and J.W. Walsh at quarterback. On the defensive line, Big 12 sacks leader Emmanuel Ogbah returns, as do veteran defensive ends Jimmy Bean and Trace Clark. The Cowboys are three-deep at linebacker with defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer beaming about his options. All that said, the deepest and most talented position is likely cornerback.

The Cowboys felt pretty good about the position a year ago when classmates Kevin Peterson, who had a year of starting under his belt to go with a year of playing a lot as a true freshman, and speedy and aggressive Ashton Lampkin were slated to start. They did and played well right up to the ankle injury that Lampkin had early in the conference opener against Texas Tech.

Lampkin was replaced by the freshman that had risen above the others in fall camp and that was former high school quarterback Ramon Richards. Miketavius Jones was forced to sit out with an academic issue and a freshman had to jump in.

"Last year we just didn't have (any depth)," Spencer said. "Right off the bat, Ramon [Richards] has to come in and play and he wasn't ready to play. To have Ashton [Lampkin] back and then Miketavius [Jones] come on. You know Miketavius has been here a long time, it's time for him to produce and he knows that. He's going to have an opportunity to do that, and then a transfer comes in that might create some depth, it allows us to do what we couldn't do last year.

Right off the bat this spring, new cornerbacks coach Tim Duffie, who moved over from safeties to replace Van Malone, told the returning Lampkin, Jones and the starters from last season in the now seasoned Richards and the all-conference caliber Peterson that the competition was on. There were no starting positions earned yet.

"Coach sat us down and told us there is no corner starting right now," said Peterson. If anyone deserves to be handed a starting job it is Peterson with four career picks despite opposing quarterbacks staying away from his side of the field most of the time. His own teammate J.W. Walsh learned again in the spring game with that first touchdown pick six that Peterson converted.

"We have three, four, and five guys that can play and we have more guys coming in whenever summer starts," Peterson explained. "There's not any positions on lock down, so you've got to go out there with your best every play or you're going to get your spot taken."

It's amazing because in addition to the three players with almost a full season of starting experience and an elder statesman reserve in Jones there is also a rapidly improving Darius Curry, a big body corner who is comfortable matching up with a bigger post up style of receiver that you so often see now in the Big 12.

The summer arrival that Peterson hinted about is Louisiana native Michael Hunter, who has two seasons of starting experience at cornerback in the Big 10 while playing at Indiana.

After what the Cowboys went through last season it is an embarrassment of riches now at a very key position in making sure a defense can stop the power spreads now dominating the Big 12 on offense. It is so good and so deep that they were able to move Jerel Morrow from cornerback to safety where he is pressing for a starting job.

Here is my unofficial depth chart at cornerback, factoring in the arrival of Michael Hunter:

Right Cornerback
1 Kevin Peterson, 5-11, 190, Sr., Wagoner, Okla.
17 Michael Hunter, 6-1, 192, Sr., Indiana/Monroe (West Monroe), La.
24 Miketavius Jones, 5-10, 175, Sr., Galena Park (North Shore), Texas
3 Chris Hardeman, 5-9, 178, So., Houston (Alief Taylor), Texas

Left Cornerback
18 Ramon Richards, 6-0, 185, So., San Antonio (Brackenridge), Texas
6 Ashton Lampkin, 5-11, 185, Jr., Fort Worth (Dunbar), Texas
2 Darius Curry, 6-1, 195, So., Flowery Branch, Ga.
30 Bryant Reber, 6-0, 185, Sr., Leawood (Blue Valley), Kan.


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