The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

March 19, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN - Cornerbacks live life on an island

MORGANTOWN — When coaches are out recruiting cornerbacks, they check their size and speed, carefully watch their footwork, check out their hands and even go so far as to check out their intelligence.

But more important than all of that, perhaps, is the attitude a cornerback brings to the table.

If you could put a finger on the No. 1 asset, it would be cockiness.

In Broderick Jenkins and Pat Miller, West Virginia has two perfect examples.

“It’s all about confidence,” Miller admitted after an early spring practice. “You’ve got to be cocky.”

“The worst thing a cornerback can do is put his head down and not fight back after he’s been beat,” Jenkins admitted. “You are going to get beat sometimes, but you can’t let them see it bothers you.”

See, cornerback is like no other position on the defense. The nose guard is caught up in a landscape of humanity, a safety does his thing and you don’t know if he did right or wrong. A linebacker may be rushing, may be covering, may be just playing to stop the run ... but you really don’t know which.

A cornerback?

“You play corner, it’s you against the receiver,” Miller said. “Do bad, everyone knows it. Do good, they know that, too, because you are out there on an island.”

Truth is, cornerbacks often get blamed for big plays that aren’t their fault, plays in which they are in Cover 2 and they turn a receiver over to a deep safety. If the safety blows the coverage it appears the receiver beat his corner, one on one, and is running along for a touchdown.

“There’s a lot of green out there,” Jenkins noted.

And if you are in man coverage, you have to cover it all, always at a disadvantage, for the receiver knows the play, knows where he’s going, knows where the quarterback is going, while you are simply reacting.

“You have to trust yourself and trust your technique,” Miller said.

More now than ever, really, for the Mountaineers are moving into a pass-happy conference with a number of teams who will throw 40 and 50 times in a game, much the same way they do, the idea being to make one of those cornerbacks blow an assignment here or a play there.

The Mountaineer corners know as they go through the spring that a big challenge lies ahead.

They are ready for it, ready because Jenkins is in his final season and Miller in his next to last. They, like all corners, have learned through their own mistakes.

It happens to every cornerback. If anyone wants to think back to Brandon Hogan’s early days at WVU, converted from quarterback, he spent a good bit of his first season looking at the backside of receivers, but with coaching and experience he wound up an NFL player.

Miller went through the same thing, but it never fazed him, the necessary cockiness telling him he was a natural.

“In high school I knew I belonged,” he said. “I never thought I couldn’t make it.”

And Jenkins certainly wasn’t about to let any momentary setbacks derail him.

“I look at it as me playing for my future, for a chance to help my family,” he said.

He admits his family struggled to make it while he was growing up, that money was scarce and the situation not exactly “Father Knows Best.”

He sees what lies ahead in the NFL and he’s driven to get there, to escape and bring his family with him.

He wishes he could do it for everyone.

“There’s too many people down there,” he said.

A new defense that is being introduced this year won’t provide big changes for the cornerbacks. They still have to cover, cover, cover in a league that has become pretty adept at breaking receivers loose.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos