NORMAN – Jordan Thomas was that cornerback once – the one that gets picked on because there’s no reason test the other side, where there’s an All-American candidate. Now, Thomas is that lonely cornerback – the one that doesn’t get tested at all because no team wants to take the risk.
According to Oklahoma Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, the starting spot opposite Thomas is “pretty open right now.” Dakota Austin won the job in preseason camp after starting three games last season, but true freshman Parrish Cobb stepped in when Austin was continually beat against Houston. Cobb didn’t have much more success.
Stoops even said that Michiah Quick, who transitioned to cornerback this spring, might even get an opportunity this weekend against Louisiana-Monroe. No matter who it is, Thomas will try and help them because he has been through the same experience.
“It's essentially just trying to build confidence,” said Thomas, who was picked on as a young sophomore across from Zack Sanchez. “You have to understand that they're young guys and obviously they're getting thrown into the fire just like I was. Essentially, they just have to keep their head cool and just play because like I said, technique beats all and if they're stressing, they won't think about it, they'll just try to be an athlete and that doesn't work at this level.”
There are just a lot more questions than answers opposite Thomas.
Stoops all but said that P.J. Mbanasor isn’t involved in the cornerback battle. Austin said he needs to earn the trust of his teammates, and Cobb is a player who is bound to grow with what Stoops called “a high ceiling.”
Thomas went through those struggles early in his career also. He relied on technique to make a few plays – to counteract the times that he was beat – and force teams to test both sides of the field. Having a balance at cornerback is big for the Sooners.
“I feel like it’s really, really crucial to our defense,” Thomas said.
Thomas didn’t offer up some special elixir to get suddenly better. He just said technique and focus. Stoops pointed to attitude and effort.
Oklahoma doesn’t need someone flashy at boundary corner. The Sooners just need someone who can be steady.
“We’ll see who is the most consistent player out there,” Stoops said. “We need somebody to be consistent. You aren’t going to win every 50-50 ball, but you have to win your share. When they win every time, that becomes a problem. We have to technique better and give them better protection too. There’s a lot that goes into it.”