NORMAN — Aaron Colvin doesn't mind the loneliness.
The Oklahoma senior enjoys the quiet of being left to man his part of the field in solitude.
“I think any corner does,” Colvin said. “Anytime your coach puts enough trust in you to go out there and play a man one-on-one, you definitely relish that opportunity and you just try to go out there and shut a receiver down.”
For a cornerback, living on an island is both a challenge and a curse.
If Oklahoma's defense is to be improved from what it was a year ago, “Colvin Island” needs to be as desolate a place as possible.
After a junior season where he had 61 tackles, four interceptions and broke up 11 passes, Colvin decided to come back for another season — both to raise his draft stock and lead a Sooners secondary that enters the season with plenty of question marks.
Referring to a cornerback's domain as an island took off with Darrelle Revis' mastery with the New York Jets, though the mentality that led to it seems to stem from Deion Sanders' dominance as a cover corner.
Colvin has brought that same mentality to the Sooners' secondary after moving over from safety before last season.
“It's just winning every matchup,” Colvin said of playing on an island. “Anytime you've got a guy out there that you're lined up against, you want to win that. When you put him on an island, you necessarily don't always have help so you've just got to be technically good and go out there and make plays.”
Last season, Colvin was often left by himself to handle the opposition's top receiver. He still shakes his head when he thinks back on defending West Virginia's Stedman Bailey in a wild 50-49 win.
Colvin had an interception, batted another into a teammates' hands, recorded eight tackles and broke up three passes in the wild game.
But the times Bailey beat him seem to stand out more vividly, both for Colvin an observers.
It's just part of the position.
“Anything you do, if you're gonna try to be considered one of the top defensive backs, it's gonna be magnified if you get beat,” Colvin said. “I accept that challenge and look forward to it.”
Whichever corner is paired with Colvin — likely sophomore transfer Cortez Johnson or redshirt freshman Zack Sanchez — will be short on experience.
Johnson said having Colvin on the other side would undoubtedly make his transition into the rotation smoother.
“He can lock down one side all by himself,” Johnson said.
For much of the last 15 years, Oklahoma's defense has been its calling card.
Last year, the defense struggled — giving up nearly 400 yards per game — with a secondary that took much of the blame. This year, Colvin said, the unit's improvement must start on the back end of the defense.
“We have to get back to that swagger,” Colvin said. “We have to have that chip on our shoulder this year. Our tradition is being the best in the Big 12 and in the country and we have to get back to that.”