What we've learned from spring: OSU Corners

CORVALLIS – OSU has a lot to work with in regards to the corner position. The unit was not lacking for bodies this spring, implying depth and security for the Beavs. Here's how things break down after the spring session and looking ahead to fall…

The Veterans
Rashaad Reynolds (5-11, 189) is a senior who can play man or zone with equal effectiveness. He makes clean tackles and was not easily outmaneuvered.

Reynolds quite simply had an excellent spring session that to me indicated that he is going to make a big impact in 2013.

Reynolds' likely counterpart in the starting lineup is Sean Martin, although that's tenuous. Martin was a solid defender who used his speed and long arms to his advantage. He managed to stay pretty aggressive with big wideouts who try to use their body to get position on him. One of the biggest things I took away from spring regarding Martin is that he wants the playing time…badly. He gave 100 percent nearly every practice and was constantly talking routes and coverages with the DBs. Post-spring, Martin is a good (but not great) option at corner who may very well secure the coveted designation of "starter" if he puts together a strong fall session.

Steven Nelson spent the spring trying to learn as much as he could about the OSU system. He has a big upper body, quick feet and some agility. But I'm not convinced that Nelson is knowledgeable enough of OSU's defensive schemes to truly be effective this early into his time as a Beaver.

Jovan Stevenson was a different player this spring. Stevenson is now comfortable enough at corner that his speed and agility shine through a bit more, and this familiarity with his role translated into less hesitation and more action on the field during spring ball. Now, I don't see Stevenson making an immediate bid for playing time when the going gets tough, but he is a decent option if an injury is sustained to one of the primary D-backs, and he should have quite the impact on special teams, possibly as a kick returner.

Malcolm Marable is in his junior season and while the 5-7, 167 corner may not have size working in his favor, he does have tenacity. Marable is a tough defender who makes up in speed for what he lacks in bulk, and he has been an off-an-on candidate for kick and punt returning gigs. When all is said and done, he isn't a great physical match for the position. Personally, I can't fathom Marable getting extensive playing time in 2013 unless some serious injuries occur.

The Youth
Larry Scott had one heck of a sprig, standing out most amongst the youth. The redshirt freshman is a quick defender who displayed the potential to make big plays on the ball with consistency. Perhaps the most impressive facet of Scott's style is his ability to make plays against guys that are physically larger than him. He did this on multiple occasions during OSU's spring session, managing particularly well in the redzone against the likes of Malik Gilmore. Scott saw the lion's share of his playing time with the 2's this spring, so look for him to make an impact moving forward. Scott has a habit of ticking off the guys that he defends, and in my eyes that translates into a job well done.

Tyler Hasty got off to a slow start but came into his own as spring progressed. As a redshirt freshman, Hasty saw time on the 2's and the scout team and proved he was a mildly effective pass defender and run stopper. Hasty is smallish (5-10, 185), but he has a big frame that takes up a good amount of space on the field and he is quite the aggressor within those first five yards. My main arguments against Hasty stems from my observations of him battling faster wideouts like Micah Hatfield – he is not very agile. Fast, yes. Agile, not so much. Hasty lost track of a lot of assignments during the spring because they could outmaneuver him. The young corner has impressive directional speed (i.e. dead sprints down the sideline), but he has a hard time maintaining that momentum in transition, making him less effective in defending a wideout whose game is predicated on speed and agility in the open field.

Zack Robinson put together a decent spring session despite seeing a good portion of his reps on the scout team. He has the wingspan to be a very effective pass defender, and he is exceptionally light on his feet. He is an average cover man, but his technique within the first five to ten yards could use a little love courtesy of Rod Perry, who tossed a lot of praise Robinson's way during the spring. However, Perry also lumped the likes of Hasty, Scott and Robinson into the group of individuals who have a lot of promise moving forward, but still need work on the fundamentals before they reach the next level of defensive back play. Robinson was at times fooled by a shake or an effective juke, which to me says that he needs to work on anticipating routes and reading the offensive formation before he commits to dropping back 10 yards.

Naji Patrick – Patrick was pretty quiet this spring, and didn't see much playing time outside the realm of the scout team. Patrick fits a mold similar to Malcolm Marable – he is small for the position but makes up for the lack of stature with intensity. Patrick is quick on his feet and has a good eye for the ball, but spring lent itself to a focus on Scott and Hasty when it came to seeing work with the 2's.

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