It’s that time again! The summer months are upon us and our favorite way to pass the time is by speculating on how specific positions will shape up in the Big 12. The Heartland Sports writers give their take on each position group, ranking them from first to worst. Then they are asked to defend their top three and bottom two rankings.
The consensus rankings come from a points system. A first place selection is worth 10 points, second place is 9 points, and they continue in descending order with tenth place equaling 1 point.
|Heartland Sports Consensus Cornerback Rankings|
|3. Iowa State||29|
|5. Oklahoma State||24|
|6. Kansas State||23|
|6. Texas Tech||23|
|10. West Virginia||5|
Unanimity – The uncertainty was off the charts with this one. There wasn’t a single school that we agreed upon across the board when it comes to ranking the corner positions.
Almost Agreed – We were really close with Kansas being at the bottom of our rankings but there was one hold out.
All Over The Place – Texas Tech received a first place vote but was also ranked as low as #8 in our rankings. The same is true for Kansas State. No team received more than one first place vote.
Individual Thoughts And Rankings
1. Oklahoma | The Sooners have been burned in the passing game in years past, but one thing they have going for them this season is experience. Tre Brown has played in all 42 games of his career, starting in 27 of the last 28. Tre Norwood enters the season with 19 starts under his belt and a chip on his shoulder after missing all of last season due to a preseason injury. With all of that experience, the Sooners should have a solid defense against the pass.
2. Texas | The Longhorns have some experience in juniors D’Shawn Jamison and Jalen Green. Jamison has 10 career starts, and Green has 7, so they will help anchor the pass defense for Texas.
3. Iowa State | The Cyclones are another team that will enjoy some youthful experience this season. Anthony Johnson Jr. was an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention as a sophomore where he recorded 60 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 10 pass breakups. Datrone Young, another junior, enters this season with much less impressive stats, but 11 starts to his name.
4. Oklahoma State
5. Texas Tech
8. Kansas State
9. Kansas | The Jayhawks have two seniors in Elijah Jones and Kyle Mayberry, but that does not mean they have a lot of experience. Mayberry started in 6 games a season ago, playing in all 12, but Jones appeared in just 6 games. Kansas isn’t exactly known for their ability to stop the pass, so don’t expect that to change this year.
10. West Virginia | The Mountaineers are young and inexperienced at the cornerback position, and that lands them at the bottom of these rankings. Tae Mayo and Nicktroy Fortune are both sophomores who were backups as freshmen a season ago, so they have plenty of time to grow, but this season could be painful at times.
1. Kansas State Wildcats | Posting the best passing defensive numbers in six years, the Wildcats retain seniors AJ Parker and Walter Neil. Behind unrivaled experience, the duo helped pave the way to 35 pass breakups on roughly 3.5 passes defended per game. While neither of those numbers are extremely high it lends a hand to the coverage the defense blanketed receivers with all season long. Moving forward, this is looking like the best secondary and more specifically, starting corners, in the league.
2. Baylor Bears | Despite turnover in the coaching realm, the Bears possess speed in the secondary. With Raleigh Texada returning as a senior on one side of the field and Boogie Barnes on the other side, Baylor appears to be in good shape at the position. For a group that ranked inside the top three defensively last season, these two provide a building block for the upcoming year.
3. Oklahoma State Cowboys | On the surface, the loss of AJ Green looks to be insurmountable — at least in the immediate future. Yet, the Cowboys will experiment with Jerrick Barnard sliding over from the safety position which is honestly a more natural fit for the defender. Without much turnover, team chemistry should remain intact allowing OSU’s secondary to hum along once again. The only question that remains is can this group limit the big play ability of opponents in the Big 12?
4. Oklahoma Sooners
5. Iowa State Cylcones
6. Texas Longhorns
7. Texas Tech Red Raiders
8. Kansas Jayhawks
9. TCU Horned Frogs | Gary Patterson has consistently fielded a viable defense and this year should be no different. However, the defense loses the top two corners in the secondary and will look to replace those with sophomore talent. While it’s limited experience, Kee’Yon Stewart started six games for TCU in 2019 — a year in which the Frogs passed the rest of the conference in pass defense. Can the new set of defenders put up similar numbers?
10. West Virginia Mountaineers | Falling in the bottom half of the conference in passing defense during the 2019 campaign, the Mountaineers did not face the level of quarterback play the league will utilize in the upcoming year. With capable receivers littering the entire Big 12, WVU must now deal with replacing both starting corners. It’s an issue worth noting and a major hurdle for the ‘Eers in a condensed offseason.
1. Texas Tech | The Red Raiders seem to be returning the most talent from 2019 at the cornerback position. Between DaMarcus Fields and Zech McPhearson, Texas Tech is returning 88 tackles, 10 pass deflections, and 3 interceptions at the position.
2. Oklahoma | I feel like an argument could be made for the Sooners to be at the top of this list. Perhaps by the end of the season you’ll see this group of cornerbacks from Oklahoma up at the top. Tre Brown will be the lockdown cornerback returning from 32 tackles, 11 pass deflections, and an interception in 2019.
3. Texas | Texas lost a lot of talent at the cornerback position with the transfer of Anthony Cook. That being said, they’ll still have some of the best talent in the conference. Between Jalen Green and D’Shawn Jamison, it will be rough to throw against the Longhorns.
5. Iowa State
6. Oklahoma State
8. Kansas State
9. Kansas | The Jayhawks really only have one returning player from 2019 to rely on. Kyle Mayberry might be on an island all by himself in 2020.
10. West Virginia | West Virginia isn’t returning much talent at the cornerback position. Hopefully Tae Mayo can continue to develop, because Nicktray Fortune is just about all they’ve got.
1. Texas | Juniors Jalen Green and D’Shawn Jamison will anchor a Longhorn secondary that needs to improve in 2020. Jamison was the only corner listed on the media Big 12 All-Conference team for the preseason.
2. Iowa State | The Cyclone defense will be key to their championship aspirations and it bodes well that Anthony Johnson and Datrone Young are both returning starters from last season.
3. Oklahoma | The Sooners said goodbye to Parnell Motley, who is now making a name for himself for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Jaden Davis is ready for the challenge after an impressive freshman campaign and senior Tre Brown could be one of the best corners in the conference.
4. Kansas State
7. Oklahoma State
8. Texas Tech
9. West Virginia | The Mountaineers lost both Keith Washington and Hakeem Baily from last year’s starting defense.
10. TCU | The Horned Frogs were last in the Big 12 in pass defense in 2019 and will be looking to sophomores Kee’yon Stewart and Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson to take over for the graduated Julius Lewis and Jeff Gladney.
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