This spring, which begins March 2, there will only be four cornerbacks on campus with any experience at all in games.
Nate Banks is the returning starter on the left side. When spring opens, he will be battling Cassius Vaughn to retain his spot.
On the right side, a pair of juniors, Dustin Mouzon, who came on strong at the end of 2006, and Terrell Jackson will compete for that opening.
Terrell, who played on special teams and in limited backup duty last season, believes his opportunity for more playing time is now, thanks to a coverage technique Defensive Coordinator John Thompson has brought to the table.
"I feel more comfortable with Coach Thompson's basketbal technique," said Terrell. "I'm doing pretty good at it, so far."
Wait a minute. Back up there, Terrell. Basketball technique? What's that?
"We're off receivers a little more and react off what they do rather than trying to shadow them, so to speak," he explained. "You face the quarterback more and use your peripheral vision more.
"I think the new technique will give us more opportunities to make plays on the ball. I feel it suits my skills better. We will still play some press coverage and do the things we've been doing, but this is just another tool to help us succeed."
Right now, the team is running drills - without a ball, a couple of hours in the afternoons getting ready for spring training. Jackson said most of the work is focusing on basics and fundamentals.
"We haven't gotten into different blitz packages or many different coverages yet, just the basics - learning techniques we are going to use," he explained.
So, where is Terrell, in his mind, in his development?
"I think I'm ready for the next step of getting more playing time. I'm watching a lot of film, getting my body in shape and working hard," he said. "I'm finally comfortable at corner. At one time, I didn't know if I had what it took - I'd been a safety most of my career, but now I feel comfortable with the challenge.
"I was used to safety, where you were in the middle of things and could see everything going on as a play developed. There wasn't as much pressure on you as there is at corner. But now I have grown to enjoy the responsibility and the challenges of corner. I'm way more comfortable with the demands of corner now than I was two years ago and last year."
Body-wise, Terrell is right where he wants to be.
"I'm the biggest corner on the team at 198 pounds and I've been able to maintain my speed, if not improve it. I'm a lot stronger than I was when I first got here and that has allowed me to be more physical in attacking runners," he continued.
Mouzon and Jackson are the same age, but Mouzon has played a little more than Terrell during their careers.
"Dustin is a good player. We will have a great competition for the starting spot, I believe," Jackson stated. "My deal is being consistent. Dustin has been more consistent than me."
Lack of consistency and patience has been Terrell's Achilles heel.
"Last year, I would make a lot of big plays, but then I'd turn around and give up big plays due to inconsistency and probably being too aggressive. I have to learn patience - when to go for a big play and when not to, and I have to learn more consistency," Terrell noted. "You have to understand you can't go for every play. Sometimes the opposing team is going to complete a pass - your job is to minimize the damage, not go for the big play and give up something bigger."
Right now, Thompson is working with the corners, mostly, and Chris Rippon is handling the safeties, for the most part.
"They work together, but mostly the corners are with Coach Thompson right now as we are learning the new techniques," Terrell closed. "We are all excited about what's happening.
"We know the secondary did not produce like it should have last year, but we are all determined to fix it for next year and we feel good about ourselves."
Where does Terrell fit into the picture?
Spring training will decide part of the verdict, but Jackson likes what is happening so far.
His opportunity to make a break through is right now. Will he grasp it? He believes he will.
Terrell Jackson update
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