With the regular season in the rear view mirror, we take a look this week at five positions MSU must beef up for the 2013 campaign. Today we continue with cornerbacks.
MSU is losing a top-notch group at this position. The biggest loss is Johnthan Banks, he of the 16 career interceptions and numerous accolades, including the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award. Banks has played in 50 games during his career, with 44 starts, and he can change the dynamic of a game by his mere presence. Most teams don’t test him often.
Then there’s Darius Slay, who in his two seasons at State has made a big impact. After being a key role player last season, he earned a starting job this fall and leads the team with five interceptions. Also leaving is Corey Broomfield, who was moved to safety for most of this season but made his bones at cornerback. He has 10 career picks.
Let’s look at the replacement candidates.
• Taveze Calhoun, R-Fr.: He played in all 12 games as a regular part of the rotation. His youth and experience were obvious at times, but he was active, making 24 tackles (15 solo) and forcing a fumble. He’s got good size at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds.
• Jamerson Love, So.: A third-year player, Love really started to come into his own this season. He’s a special teams standout, and when he enters the game on defense, the secondary rarely misses a beat. Love has played in 11 games this year and has even drawn a pair of starts. He had his first career interception against Arkansas, and coach Dan Mullen has expressed high expectations for Love.
• Kendrick Market, R-Fr.: The South Panola product has seen action in 11 games, making 13 tackles and a garbage-time interception against Middle Tennessee State. He’s a pure athlete who played multiple positions in high school, including wide receiver. He could compete for a starting job in 2013 and will certainly be in the rotation. (Although – and this is just me talking – I wouldn’t be surprised if he got moved to receiver to shore up that position.)
• Cedric Jiles, Fr.: He played in the first three games before a hand injury derailed his season, so there will be no redshirt for Jiles. (He could apply for a medical redshirt once his eligibility expires.) The 5-10, 170-pounder drew strong reviews from coaches and teammates in the preseason, and he could compete for a starting job. Another freshman to watch is redshirt Will Redmond, but his future remains murky due to the NCAA’s investigation into his recruitment.
One would naturally expect some drop-off with this group next season simply because of what is being lost. But MSU looks to have a strong young core at cornerback, something that should make it a formidable unit again in the near future.