March 1, 2012

Douglas finds success at CB

Only Cornelius Douglas would have wanted to be himself when the Oklahoma State game rolled around.

Just a few days before, Douglas got some news he was expecting but didn't really want to hear.

Douglas' career as a wide receiver, the reason he signed with Texas Tech in favor of Iowa State, Kansas State, SMU and others, was over. For the remaining year and a quarter of a season, Douglas would play as a cornerback just as those schools had projected him to be.

And on this particular weekend, Douglas' first as a corner, he got to line up against reigning Biletnikoff winner Justin Blackmon who was on his was to another Biletnikoff award.

"I was going against Blackmon in my first game at corner," Douglas said. "I just had to keep my nerves down and just go out there and play and not worry about anything. If you cloud up your mind, you're not capable of doing what's at hand. I went out there with a clear head and just did what I had to do.

"I couldn't sit there and just freak out because he's a Biletnikoff winner. He's another player like the ones I see in practice whether it's Darrin Moore or Eric Ward. He's just trying to do the same thing."

Obviously, it was a rough game for Douglas, the secondary, the defense and the team overall.

But Douglas improved drastically in the Red Raiders' final games of 2011 with some big plays in both the Missouri and Baylor games.

Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville said Douglas is a natural at cornerback and could play beyond the college level.

"He's got a chance in the future to play past college football," Tuberville said. "He'll get better. Problem is he hasn't played there much and every day something new comes up. We're playing different coverages and he's got to learn the technique. One thing he'll do is compete hard."

Douglas said he accepted the move to cornerback with no issues, but a big factor in why he committed to Tech was because he wanted to play receiver rather than a cornerback or a safety.

"Tech was the only school that recruited me as a receiver," Douglas said. "The other schools recruited me as a defensive back and one school recruited me as a quarterback. But all my recruiting offers mostly came at D.B.

"I played quarterback in high school as well as receiver and I just thought that they throw the ball here a lot and I figured it'd be a good opportunity for me."

Douglas got to play at the receiver positions, but he recognizes he's going to play a lot more as a corner. He got serious in the weight room for his new position and quickly turned his body into that of a professional cornerback at 5-foot-9 and 197 pounds and has had a successful early spring.

"I didn't really have a problem," Douglas said. "I mean, I played cornerback too in high school and I got the opportunity to go out there and play as a defensive back rather than spending more time on the sideline. That was a good selling point to me. I feel if this is what I'm supposed to do, I'm going to do it and do it well."

Art Kaufman's 4-3 defense also has helped Douglas.

The senior's strong suit is man coverage and Douglas said the defense mans the corners up against the wideouts on almost every play.

"It varies on every play but it's mostly just one-on-one, Douglas said, "us and the outside receivers get after it. They switch it up sometimes, but most of the time it's just you and the outside receiver and that's something I think I can be really good at.

"Everybody is working hard on this side of the ball and I think everyone is responding well to this new defense."

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