The transition from wide receiver to cornerback for Natrell Jamerson last season couldn’t have gone smoother for him, carving out a niche as the team’s fourth cornerback and stepping into the nickel role in a pinch. With Darius Hillary graduating, Jamerson is expected to push junior Derrick Tindal for one of the starting cornerback positions opposite of senior Sojourn Shelton or be Wisconsin’s starting nickel corner.
Stats: 14 tackles (10 unassisted) and 0.5 tackle for loss...20 kick returns for 448 yards (22.4 average per return) and one touchdown
Strengths: Jamerson’s length and 6-foot size will help him be physical with wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. While he didn’t register a pass deflection last season, Jamerson will receive an increased role that will allow him to make more plays on the ball and use his background as a receiver to his advantage. Jamerson’s stats from last season as a reserve may not be eye popping but his opportunity to play and a strong spring should serve as a springboard in to the fall.
Weaknesses: While an increase role can bring more opportunities for Jamerson, it could also expose him to more situations where he lacks experience and knowledge, especially considering UW’s tough schedule and the fact Jamerson has only been playing defensive back since last season. The big thing for Jamerson to take the next step is to be able to make more plays on the ball. Wisconsin’s experienced cornerbacks only registered one interception last season, so Jamerson will need to prove he brings more to the table that just athleticism in order to contest more passes.
Why he’s #24: There were plenty of three cornerback packages last season and that likely won’t change this coming season for the defense. Although Wisconsin will have eight scholarship cornerbacks on the roster, Jamerson will need to stay healthy, as only Shelton, Tindal and he have seen significant snaps at cornerback. Outside of being counted on to make sure the secondary doesn’t lose a step, Jamerson will also be counted on in the return game. He will look to improve upon his 448 yards on 20 returns, 98 of which came on his return touchdown at Maryland in November.
Overall: The number of game reps Jamerson received last season is one of the reasons why he could build off of his first year playing cornerback, as you could tell he was becoming more comfortable as the season progressed. Jamerson will be involved in a multitude of ways for Wisconsin, from making plays to bolster the secondary to providing a spark on special teams units. Other than linebacker Jack Cichy, no special teams player had more tackles than Jamerson, who could transition to punt returner with the graduation of Alex Erickson. Either way, Jamerson’s length could help put himself in a position where he could help create the turnovers the defense lacked last season. Whichever role Jamerson fills in the secondary, he should be able to fill it well as he prepares to go through his second fall camp at cornerback.