Spring Review 2012: Cornerback

Our post-spring series continues today on defense with the cornerbacks.

Projected starters: Johnthan Banks, Sr.; Corey Broomfield, Sr.

Backups: Darius Slay, Sr.; Jamerson Love, So.; Taveze Calhoun, R-Fr.

The skinny: Over the past three seasons, Banks and Broomfield recorded a combined 21 interceptions, 12 of them by Banks, who’s four shy of Walt Harris‘ school record. Last season, Banks had five while Broomfield got shut out.

Interceptions do not a great cornerback make, of course, but Banks has been a more consistent player. He’s also taller than Broomfield – 6-foot-2 versus 5-10 – and height matters when, say, you’re trying to defend Alshon Jeffery on a jump ball in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.

Broomfield was banged up at times last season, was limited during some spring practices, and sat out the Maroon-White spring game as a precaution. While you expect him to be a major factor, his starting job isn’t safe. Slay, after making a nice impression last fall as a juco transfer, was everywhere during the spring. There was that one scrimmage, you may recall, where he picked off Tyler Russell three times (CLICK HERE). It might have seemed ludicrous this time last year to think anyone could supplant Broomfield as starter, but Slay has a shot, and he’ll certainly get heavy snaps.

You’ll see Broomfield some at nickelback, which you saw last year, so he, Banks and Slay can be on the field at the same time. Talk about a tough group. MSU has the luxury of doing that as well as mixing in Love and Calhoun, both of whom were active around the ball in the spring.

As talented as this group is, you have to wonder whether it can consistently cover elite receivers. If so, then this is an elite group. But questions linger from last season’s debacle at Arkansas. Sure, there was plenty of blame to go around, and the Razorbacks have made a lot of good defenses look bad, but there have been other letdowns at times by MSU’s cornerbacks.

With so much experience and depth, though, this should be one of the SEC’s strongest groups. There are a ton of good pieces around them, and that should help.