It’s time we discussed cornerbacks. Based on the comments from the other writers, it doesn’t sound like the 2018 B1G will be a great source of top-flight defensive backs. This would normally come back to bite most teams in a big way, but this is the B1G, where you only really have to prepare for like three pass-competent teams per season.
The B1G graduated/left-early’d a LOT of very good CBs last year. From my research, only three returning CB made any of the All-B1G teams last season, meaning there’s a lot of room for The Next Great Guy Who Gets Away With A Lot of DPI to show up this season. It also means it was hard to get much information on most of the CBs, and it means the rankings are generally based on who made an All-B1G team (or honorable mention) last year.
Lastly, this is about cornerbacks, not safeties. It is not about secondaries or pass defenses. It’s just about cornerbacks, relax.
#1 - Lavert Hill - Michigan Wolverines
One of two guys to make an All-B1G Second Team (he also got honorable mention from the media), he’s a logical guy to expect to be the best CB in 2018. His name also showed up on some best-returning-B1G-player lists and near the top of the best defensive pro prospects. Hill yielded just a 32.5 opponent passer rating when targeted, had two interceptions, and had seven pass breakups in 2018, and he’s likely to end the year as the B1G’s best.
#2 - David Long - Michigan Wolverines
I know. I’m mad about it too. As you all know, though, I’m nothing if not objective when it comes to writing about anything. Plus Long had a good 2017. Given an Honorable Mention by the media, Long had two picks and six PBUs last season, giving Michigan’s duo four and 13, respectively. When opposing QBs targeted him in 2017, Long somehow only gave up a 19.4 passer rating which...I don’t even understand how that’s possible.
With such good stats, including a significantly better opposing passer rating against, why not put Long first? Because, um, I feel like Hill is better thought of by the internet? And with other returning DBs having made All-B1G teams last year, why not put Long lower? First, to make (insert fans here) mad, as required by OTE bylaws, but more importantly, because Michigan’s offense is such complete garbage that Long and Hill aren’t going to face a lot of offenses desperate to throw the ball to keep pace with this year’s version of Harbaugh playing a worse version of the Remember the Titans offense.
#3 - Amari Oruwariye - Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions
Oruwariye is the other returning B1G CB to have made a 2017 All-B1G 2nd Team, and both the “coaches” and the media elected him to their 2nd teams. Last season Oruwariye led Penn State with four interceptions and survived another season as a teammate of the missing member of the white yuppies from Trading Places.
The senior (?!?) managed those four picks, plus TWENTY passes defended, in 2017 as PSU’s #3 corner, and now I’m questioning why I don’t have him as the #1 2018 B1G CB. Too late to do anything about that now, I suppose, but I’m sure he’ll cite “Beez disrespect” when he accepts his Heisman after this season.
#4 and #5 - Josiah Scott, Justin Layne - Michigan State Spartans
Scott, a true sophomore this coming season, is the last cornerback on this list to make an All-B1G team (media, 3rd) last year. He and Layne, a media honorable mention All-B1G player in 2017, return with the entirety of MSU’s secondary, and if they follow the Undeniable OTE Law that all players improve from one year to the next, Scott and Layne should be a strong duo within a strong pass defense.
Co-defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach, and future pro poker player/old-timey country singer Harlon Bennett left for the beautiful low-lying dampness of Tallahassee after last season, and his departure may add a degree of uncertainty heading into the 2018 season. Michigan State fans should rest easy, though, as Paul Haynes heads north to take the demotion from Kent State’s head coach to lowly position coach working for the guy who played Ebeneezer Scrooge’s boyhood headmaster in Muppet Christmas Carol. Beyond head coaching experience and a familiarity with MSU from 15 years ago, Haynes brings a certain level of self-awareness and intelligence to the job yearned for by fans and grads of MSU, as evidenced by this not-at-all-out-of-context quote:
Brilliant insight, Coach.
#6 - Somebody from OSU, I’m sure - Ohio State University
In a shocking change of events from every other year, OSU graduated/declared early some very good cornerbacks from last year. Even more shocking, their replacements are still probably better than everyone’s multi-year starters. Unfortunately for them, my primary criteria for this ranking was how voters of All-B1G teams viewed them last year. Only one player from OSU received votes from All-B1G voters in 2017 and returns from 2018—Damon Arnette. A redshirt sophomore described as “a solid pick to be a standout,” Arnette received an honorable mention from 2017 All-B1G media voters.
It’s not like OSU is lacking other players who can and will finish in the top 6 of CBs in 2018: Kendall Sheffield played a bunch last year and performed well in place of Denzel Ward during the Cotton Bowl, Jeffrey Okudah is another name to watch this year and is probably a former five-star recruit, and there’s some backup’s backup that’ll put up a good season unexpectedly. Your guess is as good as mine.
Other Players To Watch And Why To Watch Them.
Matt Hankins - Iowa Hawkeyes
A sophomore, Hankins showed decent potential last year, along with the inconsistency of a young player. Iowa graduated an above-average corner last year, and Hankins, along with Manny Rugamba, Michael Ojemudia, and Trey Creamer, will be working hard to replace what’s-his-name
Dontye Carriere-Williams, Madison Cone - Wisconsin Badgers
Why do these players get a mention? Because I’m a Wisconsin fan. They may not be “good” in the sense that they’ll “stop” the other team “from” throwing downfield, but I’m sure Jim Leonhard will make some magic happen. Carriere-Williams was the nickel back last year and played in all fourteen game, while Madison Cone will likely be spending his first season as a starter, and you will absolutely get tired of the hilarious jokes/puns/references to Cone’s first name being the same as the city where Wisconsin plays and wow it was destiny.
John Reid - Penn State
Reid was an honorable mention All-B1Ger in 2016, missed last year due to injury, and could be a great compliment to Oruwariye if he’s healthy and still effective. Plus he gets a bump for having to play on the same team as a human pair of boat shoes without socks.
Clifton Duck - Appalachian State Mountaineers
Why does THIS dude get the coveted “closest to the poll” spot in this article? Because (1) I’m a big App State fan, (2) Penn State hosts App State in week 1, so might as well learn the players, (3) His name is pretty great, and (4) He’s REALLY good.
EDIT: I edited this article post-publication because you are required, per 11 COTER 232.7 to post the below video upon any mention of App State.
A true junior going into this season, he was a freshman All-American in 2016, All-Sun Belt in 2016 and 2017, and recorded eleven picks over the past two seasons—tied for 5th most in the country. He’s also been a critical part of the “way better than you’d think” and “plays a lot like Wisconsin” App State Defense the last two years. Also he had a 43.6 opposing passer rating when targeted last year. He’s good and I’m pretty excited to watch him against PSU and fully expect him to “keep his receiver in check” because App State’s LBs and 3rd and 4th CBs will get roasted by PSU.
Which Team Will Have The Best CB Duo In 2018?
This poll is closed