Curious About George

Sophomore Cornerback Jaston George is not a name brought up too often when there are discussions about the Syracuse Orange secondary. With injuries and veterans keeping him off the field last season, he hovers below the radar. But at Fort Drum, George was picked up on the radar screen and is now being tracked, just as he has tracked receivers.

"At Fort Drum, I felt like my main focus was to just work on being more of a coverage corner because I'm known as more of the physical corners out of the bunch," said Jaston George. "When the ball came my way, I wanted to make sure I made plays on the ball and I also was in good position to make plays."

Even when the position George had to be in was higher than the taller receiver he was covering, George rose to the occasion. In man-on coverage with junior wide receiver Jarrod West, it was West and George alone in the endzone. George was behind West with the ball on its way to West's hands. George leapt into the air, above West's hands, and knocked the ball away one-handed to prevent the touchdown.

"Big plays like that, those are the ones where you [see] where's it's all starting to pay off," remarked George. "You have to go get the ball at the highest point even if the receiver catches it, you got to know how to knock it down or how to get it out of his hands so it can't be a big play."

George credits being able to make plays like that not just on his abilities, but also from what Defensive Backs' Coach Donnie Henderson has taught him.

"Just being able to look and say, ‘Yeah, Coach [Henderson], I see what you're talking about. Taking the outside shade and knowing that this is a taller receiver, so it's gonna be a fade, and just going to get the ball at the highest point," shared George.

Within the same day that George took away West's opportunity in the endzone, he also got his hand in on numerous pass attempts against other receivers on the Syracuse squad. George appeared to have a good read no matter who the quarterback was, what receiver lined up against him, or what the route was.

The second year corner offered his thoughts on why he has been so productive at camp.

"That just came over time, being that I have been here for a year now, so I've been starting to recognize a lot of patterns…different packages. What players are kinda shooting for."

But, despite his success in coverage during Fall camp, George has continued to want to improve, shown in his openness to learning from Coach Henderson.

"Right now, I'm playing alright. I'm doing all the little things right, but he (Henderson) wants me to improve more on my technique," said George. "Me being more of the smaller corner and not as fast as the other corners, he wants me to start winning early, using my feet quicker.

"Being able to use my hands and get my hands on receivers at the line because he tells me a lot of times, if I lose at the line, ‘If he's even, he's leaving.' That's his main quote. ‘If you let a receiver get even with you, he's leaving.'"

Standing at 5-foot-10, George knows that some opponents see an advantage in targeting him. He has chosen to utilize their "advantage" to his advantage. "Me being a smaller corner, they see me as a mismatch sometimes, so sometimes when I know there's certain routes, I kinda know that the ball is coming and that I gotta make this play," said George. "Or I know what the quarterback's reading. And I started to recognize more checks that the quarterbacks make when they see these key receivers."

Having a better knowledge of the game makes George more of a threat than some may think.

"I'm starting to get my play recognition better, and it's helping me with my coverage because once you know a play is coming, you know what you have to do early to win that play."

So how confident does George feel that he will have an opportunity to show his skills this season?

"I'm pretty sure that I'll see the field this year," remarked George. "…it's a competition between us all because we have a lot of great corners."

But, George knows what it feels like to be sidelined and has put his chance to play on his own shoulders going into this season.

"Not playing last season, it really hurt a lot. It took me awhile to get over it, but then after the season, I just told myself that I wanted to come back stronger than I left," George disclosed. "So I trained harder. I gained weight. I got faster. I got stronger. I really attacked the gym and worked out very hard each day. Each and every day. I just told myself I had to get better, ‘cause I didn't want to come back the same person that I left.

"I just wanted to show the coaches that I was dedicated to the sport. That even though I had an injury last year, I wasn't going to let it affect this year."

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