Note: Second in a series--and written before Lawry was mentioned as taking a visit to Missouri.
Speaking of OU’s gaudy wide receiver recruits, it only makes sense to address the guys tasked with stopping—or at least hindering—them. Leonard Johnson is gone, and Jeremy Reeves will be a senior, so where do we go next? Clifford Stokes (listed on the ISU website as 6’0” 180), for all that he is a relief, represents nothing more than a short term patch, a transition to the next generation of Cyclone cornerbacks. Jansen Watson and Matt Thomas are in the position of Jarvis West and Albert Gary, by the ’13 season they’ll be the only holdovers from ’11. So CPR has to build a whole new cornerback corps, much as he has the wide receivers. Only problem being, he’s a little behind that curve.
Not that he couldn’t gain ground quickly. Even without Bobby Elliott.
The main reason that he’s behind the curve is that the ’11 corner class was a bit more modest than it’s aforementioned offensive counterpart. I’m not complaining. Kenneth Lynn and Sam Richardson were a nice pair of signees. Unfortunately, both need better size. With Lynn, about thirty pounds of muscle, from his reporting weight of 157. In Richardson’s case, he wasn’t that far off of Jeremy Reeves’ listed playing weight—but he also matched Reeves’ playing height. Still, both players have excellent athleticism, and I have no qualms on that front. Both are going to help this team, one way or another. Lynn could be a star, Richardson a special teams star and situational standout—the guy sent in to cover someone else’s Jarvis West.
Those two players as a given, it’s with the ’12 signing class that CPR starts recruiting prototypical corners. All of a sudden ISU is up there with the big boys. Credit LJ’s performance against Justin Blackmon, heck, credit the entire win against OSU, all that I know is, something made a difference. The effect being that Wally and his new defensive backfield coach won’t be trying to manufacture cornerbacks out of whole cloth. No more “gimme some time to put muscle on them” assignments for Yancey McKnight. Just the natural adjustments a high school athlete has to make.
Let’s start out with Charles Rogers. Why not? It’s only fair. Any time ISU snares a kid from Iowa’s back yard, he doubtless deserves notice. And we’ll look at him here because he has said that he was recruited to play corner and safety. I must admit that I’m a bit perplexed at how some people seem to be taking that and running with it, saying that Rogers will be ISU’s next great cornerback. Me, I’m kind of taking it with a grain of salt, at least waiting until he reports for camp. I actually thought that he looked like strong candidate as Jacques Washington’s heir apparent, not being sure whether Charles had the top end speed or swivel to be a top corner—much like Washington. Or Ter’ran Benton, for that matter. But hey—time will tell.
Then there is Damian Lawry. This is a guy you can say will be a corner—visit to Missouri notwithstanding. How good of one is another matter, because I’m not sure if he has true elite speed—but he does seem to have elite acceleration. He gets to his top speed faster than other guys. At a listed 6’0” 175, even if we take that with a grain of salt and say 5’11” 172, he has decent size to start out with as well. I can call this guy a cornerstone, especially in the long term with Lynn. Rogers would be another building block, at the very least as a safety.
I must admit that one hesitance in my book is the fact that Iowa didn’t offer Rogers. The Hawkeyes are desperate for cover corners, and they don’t go hard after the hometown boy? Is Kirk Ferentz stupid? I don’t think so.
Then there is the pending puzzle of Gary Simon. Yeah, we all know about him. He visited last weekend, the same as Lawry, linebacker Darius White, and that mystery DT, Devlyn Cousins. At least Lawry and White had the decency to commit! Okay, so Simon had a good excuse. He’ll be visiting Arkansas this weekend, and is scheduled for OU the weekend after. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Not only does Oklahoma already have corners committed, they have a visit scheduled from a four-star this weekend. I betcha that if that guy commits, Simon’s visit evaporates. Much like what happened to Chris Grisbhy when the Big Dawg committed. That’s why Simon didn’t bother listing OU up there with his favorites—it’s a conditional offer.
So hopefully we just have to worry about Arkansas. Who also has corners already committed—but then, so do we. I hope this kid falls our way.
I know that the coaching staff doesn’t pay a whole lot of attention to my opinion, but it seems to me that a triumvirate of Lynn, Lawry and Simon would not only allow Rogers a chance to focus on free safety (safeties discussed later), but establishes a solid baseline to build upon for the future. Much like the baseline CPR’s staff will now have established at wide receiver. Size and athleticism. They’re just the type of corners we need to combat OU’s group of ridiculously talented wide receiver recruits.
Impact for’13 recruiting
Historically speaking, Marcus Robertson is about the most prototypical cornerback I have seen signed at ISU (if you don’t count Danny Harris)—and he wound up being a Pro Bowl safety. Jim Criner, IIRC, gets credit for signing both—but, then, he also signed Levin White, which entirely negates that credit. And then some. Leonard Johnson was a high school quarterback. Ellis Hobbs, like Jeremy Reeves (and likely Sam Richardson) had prototypical speed and athleticism, but not size. That’s the way it’s been for most Cyclone cornerbacks over the years. Two of the three basic elements, but not the third.
It certainly seems to me as if that’s about to change. Simon is the first crack in the wall, a cornerback with size, speed, athleticism, and experience at the position. Whether we land him or not—and I certainly hope that we do—when next Summer and Fall rolls around, I would expect another “Simon” or two to be taking a closer look at Iowa State.
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Re: Recruiting Cornerbacks
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"There are five real good recruits in the state. We got three of them. One couldn’t get into school, and the other went to (the University of) Iowa...which is about the same thing." - Coach Johnny Orr