We continue this week’s column of positional breakdowns, as we visit the locker room of the safety group.
Nothing to see here, folks. Virtually every player who got significant playing time in 2019 back. Better yet, none of the top 3 corners going into this year are seniors, and they should all come back for at least one more year.
The cornerbacks last year were extremely young, the ‘veterans’ only being sophomores and had Brian Peavy sized shoes to fill. Their inexperience showed at times, (we’re going to avoid Datrone Young’s punt return coverage as much as possible in this article) but with another year under their belt this corner back room could make some noise.
Although he’s not “new” per say, two corners you could see a lot more of this year are Kym-Mani King, a true sophomore. He primarily played special teams last year, but if there’s an injury or inconsistent play by any of the three guys in front of in, he’s the favorite to fill in.
If it’s not King, it could be my favorite incoming freshman picking up some minutes. TJ Tampa has said that he’s been taking reps in the secondary. He was recruited as a wide receiver, but might get reps on defense before offense. Also, if the name sounds familiar, it might be because of his viral dunks throughout the basketball season that would circulate on Iowa State twitter. Lordy.
LEADER OF THE PACK
Without much debate, Anthony Johnson will be tasked with locking down the opposing team’s top receiver this season. Johnson was an honorable mention for All Big 12 last year, and is looking to carry over that success this year. He didn’t have any interceptions last year, but did have a team high 10 pass deflections.
Tayvonn Kyle started the last five games of the year and played well throughout. Kyle filled in for Datrone Young who was banged up towards the end of the last season. Young and Kyle will likely battle for that second spot on the depth chart, if I was a betting man, I’d give the slight edge to Kyle.
I think this group will be a lot better this year. It’s almost an impossible task to defend some of the offenses in the Big 12, but this group will do it better than most in the conference. Anthony Johnson will be one of the best CBs in the Big 12, with a healthier, more experienced, supporting cast around him.
An area for this group to elevate their game even more is on the turnover front. Johnson forced two fumbles, but none of the three returning CB’s got an interception last year. I’d like to see that number increase.