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April 3, 2012

Aggies look to reload at corner

Now that 2012's signing day has come and gone, Texas A&M knows for sure who it will be going into SEC play with. Aggieyell.com will look at the 2012 team, position by position, as spring practice approaches. The latest in the series: cornerback.

Losses from last year: Terrence Frederick, Coryell Judie, Lionel Smith
Players on scholarship: 7
Overall talent level: High
Overall experience level: Low
Overview: No position on the football team was gutted more between 2011 and 2012 than corner. After the losses of Frederick, Judie and Smith, Dustin Harris is the sole remaining player at the position with significant experience. On paper, the Aggies have some quality replacements: Floyd Raven was highly regarded last year; Otis Jacobs was an elite corner at the JUCO level and Devante Harris may have been the best cover corner in the class of 2012. But A&M needs the potential to translation into a lack of production for opposing receivers.

The veteran:

Senior Dustin Harris
• 33 tackles (26 solo), 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 8 pass breakups, 9 passes defensed, 1 INT in 13 games (4 starts) in 2011
• Greatest assets: Fast, rangy; has three years of playing experience
• The bottom line: Harris has been consistently inconsistent in his career, making good plays then getting beat easily, sometimes with in one possession of the other. A&M will need him to be not only consistent, but to set the tone for the corners in 2012.

The other candidates:

Sophomore Floyd Raven
• 6 tackles in 12 games in 2011
• Greatest assets: SEC ready in terms of size (6'2", 190 lbs.); capable of jamming receivers at the line or running with them
• Raven was possibly the greatest coup in Mike Sherman's final recruiting class, as the 4-star signed with A&M on signing day and his mom signed with Ole Miss (on his behalf). Once that was straightened out, the Aggies had a big, physical corner for the next four years. He showed enough to get on the field for special teams and limited defensive snaps last year, but the new coaching staff will need a lot more from him.

Junior Otis Jacobs
• 39 tackles (29 solo), 14 pass breakups, 2 INT, 2 TFL, 1 fumble returned for a TD at Gulf Coast Community College in 2011
• Greatest assets: A big corner (6'1", 180 lbs) with the ability to run with anyone. Also not afraid to provide run support.
• The bottom line: If Raven was Mike Sherman's last signing day coup, Jacobs was Sumlin's first. One of the best JUCO corners in the nation last year, Jacobs showed he was a very capable defender at that level. If he can provide the same caliber of play at A&M, the Aggies will have one corner position locked down quite nicely.

Junior Toney Hurd Jr.
• 20 tackles (14 solo), 1 pass breakup, 1 pass defensed in 13 games (2 starts) in 2011
• Greatest assets: Very physical corner who is tough to shake at the line of scrimmage
• The bottom line: The 5'9", 180-lb. Hurd as moved back and forth between safety and corner the past two seasons, but he'll likely stay at corner this season. His experience could well be one of the things that helps him stand out in the open competition for big playing time.

Sophomore Deshazor Everett
• 10 tackles (5 solo) in 12 games in 2011
• Greatest assets: Good size (6 foot, 176 lbs.) and not afraid to hit
• The bottom line: A converted safety, Everett wasn't supposed to see the field last year but became a solid special teams contributor. His time at corner was limited, but his aggressive mindset could alter that this year.

Junior Desmond Gardiner
• 10 tackles (5 solo) in 13 games in 2011
• Greatest assets: good at jamming wideouts at the line
• The bottom line: A solid special teamer, Gardiner's experience could help him vault into the equation at corner in 2012.

True freshman Devante Harris
• Third-ranked corner in America by Rivals.com in the class of 2012
• Greatest Assets: 4.4 40 speed and perhaps the best cover corner skills of anyone in the nation.
• The bottom line: Starting true freshmen in the SEC West is normally a recipe for disaster, but Harris would likely be an exception to that rule. A pure cover corner, Harris has the speed to stay with or catch virtually any receiver in the conference and has the skills to prevent the completion. He shined against top-caliber competition at the Gridiron Kings competition and the UnderArmor All-American game, a good indicator that he won't be overmatched when he arrives this summer.


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