Bama (Natl Champ)
Alabama Crimson Tide (National Championship)
L, 23-26

     Cornerback looked to be a strength this season, returning starters Prince Miller and All-SEC candidate Asher Allen, along with a host of young stars-in-the-making. Of course, that was before Allen made the surprising decision to enter the NFL draft and forego his final season of eligibility in Athens. This position group is now a cause for concern, losing Allen to the pros, Ramarcus Brown to graduation and Bryan Evans to a different position (safety). Prince Miller has been solid throughout his career, but I'm not sold he has the physical presence to shut down #1 receivers. That's why one of my picks for this season's Newcomer Of The Year is Brandon Boykin. I think that Boykin will emerge as a shutdown corner and will be able to go toe-to-toe with the best wide outs the SEC has to offer. Boykin played in all 13 games last season as a true freshman and earned more and more playing time as the season wore on. He is similar to Allen in that he plays physical at the line, but also has the speed to recover.

     The first guy on the field in nickel situations is a toss up right now. The odds on favorite would be Sanders Commings. Commings redshirted last season, but he played well in the spring game and has great size at 6-2 210 lbs. Commings will be pushed hard by incoming true freshmen Branden Smith and Jordan Love, not to mention junior Vance Cuff. Only Miller has more experience than Cuff, so he would have a mental edge among this group. Smith has been hyped as the next Champ Bailey, so he would seem to have the physical edge. I think we'll see more Commings than Smith early in 2009, but Smith will earn more playing time as the season plays out. Love would benefit from a redshirt season, but I believe that the lack of depth at corner will force him into action this season.

     The other wildcard with this position is having Bryan Evans as the starting free safety. Evans is a senior and played corner in the UGA system for 3 years. He definitely knows what a corner is supposed to do on every play, and he also has the cover skills to help immensely in coverage. I really look for Evans to be a great center-fielder which will relieve some pressure on the young corners and also allow Reshad Jones to roam the field and lay the wood.

     I had been very concerned about the cornerbacks, but I'm feeling more confident lately. Depth is a concern which makes injuries very scary, but I think there is ample talent here to have a solid secondary. Of course, any secondary can be picked apart without a pass rush up front, so any success the corners will enjoy will largely depend on the success that the defensive line has putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.