TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney embracing ‘big brother’ role in secondary

TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney has a simple message for young cornerbacks.

“You’ve got to have amnesia,” Gladney said, smiling. “You can’t worry about the last play at all. That’s going to be in your head the whole time.”

That rings true whether a cornerback makes a good play such as an interception, or gets beat on a route. The highs and lows can change on every snap during a football game and Gladney knows that as well as anyone.

TCU puts Gladney on an island often, something that he embraces and opposing offenses tend to stay away from. After all, he’s arguably the top cornerback in the Big 12.

So Gladney continues to make a concerted effort to spread his knowledge and wisdom to the young cornerbacks on the team. Namely, he’s become a mentor for true freshman Kee’yon Stewart, who has been thrown into a starting role and handled himself well the first two games.

“He’s played pretty good,” Gladney said. “I see a lot of myself in him. I’m trying to big brother him and get him ready.”

Stewart has made the first two starts opposite Gladney, and could make his third straight against SMU on Saturday. It depends on whether TCU senior cornerback Julius Lewis is ready to return from injury.

Coach Gary Patterson said Lewis would be a game-time decision.

Stewart has garnered praise for his play early on this season, but he’s also been beat on a couple deep pass plays too.

Gladney makes sure the true freshman takes it all in stride. A short memory is required for all cornerbacks.

“The best advice I think I gave him is, ‘You’re going to have to learn the hard way playing this position,’” Gladney said. “I just try to get him to look at splits and formations and tell him this is what you’re going to get. Just little stuff to help him out.”

As far as himself, Gladney is pleased with his early start to the season. He’s been credited with a pass breakup in each game, including his first interception of the season against Purdue last Saturday.

Gladney read a flea flicker perfectly, and hauled in his fifth career interception. He’s pleased to get his first one sooner compared to last season when he waited until the regular-season finale against Oklahoma State.

“I’m just hoping they keep coming and I keep stacking them,” Gladney said.

Patterson hopes so, too. Patterson made it clear that Gladney would be on an island plenty this season, lining up against the opponent’s top receivers.

Asked if Gladney is poised for his best season, Patterson said: “I don’t know. We’re going to see. He’s got a chance.

“We’ve tried to put him in a lot of 1-on-1s where he has to play usually their best players. Again, he’ll be recognized for that here over the next few weeks because he’s got some good players down the pipe.”

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram