Sooner cornerbacks face challenging role filled with criticism

By John Helsley Published: August 24, 2008
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/> Squeezing the Sooner secondary even more is the players who have come before them.

Smith was All-Big 12 last season and Walker was solid. Derrick Strait was a two-time All-Big 12 pick, the league's Defensive Player of the Year and the Thorpe Award winner in 2003.

Corner is always an area of focused concern among fans, especially in times of transition such as faces the Sooners this season. The Sooners have always had attacking defensive fronts and linebackers, leaving a steep learning curve for players in the secondary. They need to learn quick, because they are often on their own.

And already, red flags have been raised. Jackson and Franks emerged from the spring atop the depth chart, but it only took a few days of preseason camp for the Sooners to lean on the versatile Lendy Holmes to lend some experience to the position.

Holmes has filled this role before, helping solidify the OU secondary in 2006 when he switched from safety to corner.

He knows the position. And the perils, too.

"When you get back there in the secondary,” Holmes said, "everybody sees what you did wrong; what you didn't do.”



Oklahoma cornerbacks Dominique Franks, left and Brian Jackson know all too well the lonely feeling of playing "on an island.” By Chris Lansberger, The Oklahoman

How I do what I do

Brian Jackson explains what it's really like when you're working the dirty job of being a cornerback:

"My job is to completely shut down the receiver I'm guarding. In man-to-man, it's my job to keep him from catching the ball.

"Zone coverage or deep coverage, you've got one-third of the field to cover. And I might be in run support.

"It's 11-on-11 every down. You've got to have one for one. Every play, you're going to have something to take care of. The way you approach it is key.

"You're either going to catch the ball, or you're not going to catch it. And it's my job to keep you from catching it.”

By John Helsley

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