As he tries to keep expectations from snowballing for what is sure to be a highly ranked team in the fall, it has been tough to pull a kind word from Gary Patterson about any position in the spring.
The defensive line lacks effort. The linebackers have “a long way to go.” Even the starting quarterback has been merely “OK.”
“Torrance and Ranthony have been our bright spot,” Patterson said last week. “And another guy that I think will help us, O’Meally, has gotten bigger and gotten a lot stronger.”
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That’s putting it pretty plainly at a position that gets a lot of stress in Patterson’s scheme. The cornerbacks in the 4-2-5 are often singled-up and have to be not only fast, but also excel at bump-and-run coverage. When they can’t do it, the door opens to disasters like 61-58.
So if Patterson likes what he sees, it means something.
“If the corners are making him happy, that’s good,” former cornerback Kevin White said at TCU Pro Day.
“Wow, that’s a shocker,” former safety Sam Carter said. “That’s a good thing, because you need your corners in the Big 12.”
No doubt about that. Patterson is trying to build a stable of cornerbacks he can put on the field against teams like Baylor that can send four vertical routes at one time against a defense.
That’s why punt returner/receiver Cameron Echols-Luper was moved to cornerback this spring, and why Patterson considered also looking at speedy slot receiver Deante’ Gray at corner before he got hurt. And also why four-star recruit DeShawn Raymond was such an important acquisition as the Horned Frogs searched for a replacement for the departed White.
But how those plans play out remains to be seen.
What is certain so far, as the Horned Frogs prepare for another scrimmage this week, is that Texada, Mosley and O’Meally have impressed Patterson.
“All four of the top corners are better than what we were a year ago, except we had Kevin,” Patterson said. “To play the way we need to play, we’ve got to play at corner.”
Texada, Mosley and walk-on Robert Lewis are listed as 1-2-3 at one of the corner spots. Echols-Luper, O’Meally and Raymond are 1-2-3 at the other.
Texada has the experience edge on everyone. He started all 13 games a year ago at the corner spot opposite White and wound up with second-team freshman All-America honors from Scout.com. But it wasn’t a smooth ride.
“He didn’t play early,” Patterson said. “He got ran by. We had to take him out of the West Virginia game. He started getting his confidence back toward the last part of the year. He played better at the end of the year. He played well in the bowl game. He’s carried that forward this year.”
The spring game April 10 will provide another opportunity for Raymond and the other corners to make their case. In August, two more will arrive out of the recruiting class — Julius Lewis of Mansfield and Jeff Gladney of New Boston.
Until then, no matter what the depth chart says — or even what Patterson says — nothing is decided. No one has yet emerged as that No. 1 corner that White was a year ago.
“We don’t have a ‘1’ at the boundary corner right now,” Patterson said as spring practice began. “We need to find a 1, but we don’t have a 1. But we have all of them, plus the two coming in the fall. So we’ll find one.”
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407