Have you ever noticed that if you say cornerback too quickly, or with too much of a mumble, it sounds like quarterback? It can go the other way as well. Pronunciation is important. If you don’t pronounce well, you might foolishly think someone is telling you that Hayden Moore is playing in the secondary.
Don’t worry. Moore will not be lining up on the corners this year, although he will need to avoid throwing to the defenders who play there. Some weeks, that will be much easier than others. In 2017 the corners that were the most effective in the American Athletic Conference were Tulane’s Parry Nickerson and UCF’s Mike Hughes. Here’s the best on the schedule for the Bearcats this year.
Honorable Mention: Mazzi Wilkins (USF), Nevelle Clarke (UCF) and Tyler Coyle (UConn)
Donnie Lewis Jr. (Tulane)
Lewis showed just how devastating he can be for opposing passing attacks against East Carolina last year. In just a single game he accumulated six passes defended, moving all over the field to keep the Pirates frustrated. ECU quarterback Gardner Minshew only completed 25-of-52 pass attempts and averaged 3.9 yards per attempt in that game and Lewis played a major role.
Lewis isn’t going to have those types of games every week, but considering he had 36 total tackles, 3.0 TFL and 11 passes defended last year, not to mention a similarly solid 2016 (39 tackles, 2.0 sack, 2 INT, 8 PD), its clear that his senior season will be strong at worst and stunning at best.
Nate Meadors (UCLA)
In the first week of the season, the Bearcats get a chance to really test themselves with a West Coast trip to face the Bruins. While the bulk of the attention for the game will be focused on UCLA’s new head coach Chip Kelly, there are plenty of other reasons to tune in. Meadors’ play in the secondary is one of those.
In a 2018 that was easily a career year, Meadors had personal bests in tackles (54) and passes defended (9). He also returned his lone interception for a touchdown
Interestingly enough, Meadors isn’t the only great cornerback on the Bruins’ roster. Darnay Holmes had 39 tackles and a team-high three interceptions last year. The duo make for quite a pair to build your pass defense on, which is good news for UCLA and horrible news for its opponents, UC included.
Jordan Wyatt (SMU)
One of the reasons SMU is going to be as good as last year, if not better, is the fact that Wyatt will be manning the edges on defense. UC knows that better than most teams. The 6’0”, 195-pound senior tallied a season-high 11 tackles, including two for loss, against the Bearcats last season. He provided plenty of strong play the rest of the campaign, finishing with 49 tackles (4.5 for loss), four interceptions, eight passes defended and three forced fumbles. He also scored three defensive touchdowns and was still overlooked for All-AAC first and second-team honors, managing just an honorable mention. That won’t happen again.