Aggie football kicked off spring camp last week and today we complete our series of sorting out the open positions. With several departing starters on both sides of the ball, returning letterman and incoming freshman will have a chance to lay claim to those vacancies. Last week we reviewed the open slot receiver position and weakside linebacker position. Today we focus in on the boundary cornerback.
The Aggies lose a 3 year starter at cornerback with the graduation of Deshazor Everett. Both in 2013 and 2014, he recorded 73 tackles while tallying 56 in 2012. That type of production will be very difficult to replace, but the coaches will be looking towards Tavares Garner, Noel Ellis, or Nick Harvey to do so. Luckily, there will be a consistent theme between the defensive coordinator and secondary position coach that will be installed in spring camp and going forward. While the Aggies ran a very complex and often confusing defense in 2014, the scheme will be simplified with lots of man coverage in 2015. And while this will often put the cornerbacks on islands, there will not be any confusion on area of responsibility. Time to sink or swim.
One of the most promising prospects to claim the starting position is redshirt sophomore Noel Ellis. After suffering a serious illness that sidelined him last season and earned him a medical redshirt, he is finally healthy and getting a chance to prove his ability. He was a consensus 4-star recruit out of Louisiana in high school and was best known for his ability to be a lockdown corner. He worked at Nickel last week and looks to be every bit of the Under Armour All-American that he once was. He has even reclaimed the nickname “Ellis Island” for his lockdown ability in single coverage.
The man with the most to gain with John Chavis’ arrival is junior Tavares Garner. In 7 games playing time his freshman year, Tavares notched 3 tackles. Plagued with health and performance issues, he only saw the field once against SMU last season recording 3 tackles. In two years, Garner has played in 8 games and tallied 6 tackles. Despite the limited production, he excels the most in press man coverage. As Coach Chavis and Coach Joseph move towards this style of play, Garner will get a legitimate chance to earn the opening spot.
Last but not least is true sophomore Nick Harvey. A highly rated 4-star out of high school, he saw action in every game last season. While his production was limited to 12 tackles, his upside is very promising. He has top end speed as demonstrated by him serving as backup to Speedy Noil in punt returns. His youth is also promising in that, like Noel Ellis, he has three seasons of eligibility left and could provide a stabilizing effect on the position unit. Given his playing time in 2014 and his upside going forward, the position may be his to lose.
Winner: Noel Ellis