We are in the midst of a youth movement in the Southeastern Conference, particularly at corner. Our list of the top ten SEC cornerbacks includes four sophomores and only four seniors. Also, there are two teams that place two players among the league’s best, and the Auburn Tigers will face all but two of those ranked this season.
For Auburn, the cornerback position is fairly thin on experience, but Jonathon Mincy should provide some veteran leadership. And while Joshua Holsey and Trovon Reed aren’t considered among the SEC’s elite just yet – both have the ability to make this list before the 2014 season comes to a close.
1. Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
Vernon Hargreaves III burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2013 and played his way onto the All-SEC first team – making him Florida’s lone representative last year. Hargreaves started ten games, broke up eleven passes (tying a school record), and picked off three. He is certainly the best corner in the SEC – and possibly even the nation. Hargreaves suffered a minor injury a few days ago during a scrimmage, but should be fine for the season.
2. Taveze Calhoun, Mississippi State
He has flown under the radar to this point, but Taveze Calhoun is an elite cornerback. Calhoun has good size(6-foot-1, 184 pounds) and can match up with big receivers, which could make him an NFL Draft pick next spring. The junior plays the boundary corner position for the Bulldogs, and excelled there in 2013. He had three interceptions, including two against Alabama, and can make big plays on special teams also. Against Oklahoma State in the season opener last year, he returned a blocked kick 68 yards.
3. Tre’Davious White, LSU
White started eleven games for LSU in 2013 and played in all 13 during his true freshman season. He earned Freshman All-SEC honors thanks to two interceptions, and seven pass breakups. White’s best game came against Mississippi State when he picked off Dak Prescott to seal the victory for the Tigers, and he added another interception in the Outback Bowl against Iowa. Entering his sophomore season, the sky is the limit for White.
4. Rashard Robinson, LSU
Tre-Davious White isn’t the only standout sophomore cornerback on the LSU roster, and Rashard Robinson could be even better. Robinson did not enroll at LSU until August 28 last season, which means he missed all of the Tigers’ fall camp. However, he proved good enough to play in 12 games. He earned a starting role against Texas A&M and held first round NFL draft pick Mike Evans to four catches and 51 receiving yards and also intercepted a pass. Robinson is tall for a corner at 6-foot-1, but he is listed at only 163 pounds. If he gets stronger, he will be a first rounder himself.
5. Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M
Boy, was the defense bad last season for the Aggies. Deshazor Everett, however, has been a bright spot. He enters 2014 as Texas A&M’s best defensive player and is the leader of the unit. Last season, Everett had 73 tackles and two picks. He can also play safety, but playing him at corner gives head coach Kevin Sumlin and defensive coordinator Mark Snyder the best chance for success. There, Everett can shadow the opponent’s best receiver.
6. Jamerson Love, Mississippi State
If Taveze Calhoun is under the radar, you may really need to look hard to find Jamerson Love. But, the fact is, the pair could very well be the best cornerback duo in the SEC. Last season, Love had three interceptions, one of which he took back for a touchdown. The senior, in addition to the rest of the talent on defense, is a big reason why MSU fans are so optimistic about 2014.
7. Cameron Sutton, Tennessee
Sophomores rule this list – taking three of the top four spots, and now four out of seven. Cameron Sutton is the real deal, and he started all 12 games for the Vols as a true freshman. Sutton led the Tennessee defense with nine pass breakups and also picked off two passes.
8. Jonathon Mincy, Auburn
There are obviously other players on this list that are more talented than Jonathon Mincy. However, Mincy has been solid for Auburn, and should have a fine senior season. Instead of shifting him over to the boundary position, as had previously been planned, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has decided to keep Mincy in the same spot he held last year. That familiarity should be an advantage. The biggest question mark is his playmaking ability. Mincy is the most experienced player in the Tigers secondary, but has just one career interception across three seasons.
9. Damian Swann, Georgia
Damian Swann is somewhat similar to Mincy. He started all 13 games last season for the Bulldogs, and 12 the previous season, but he will be surrounded with an even more inexperienced unit than Mincy thanks to graduations, a dismissal and transfers. Last year, Swann had 57 tackles and led the team with eight pass breakups. He had four interceptions in 2012.
10. Senquez Golson, Ole Miss
It’s the Ole Miss safeties that receive the most attention, but Senquez Golson is a pretty good corner. Golson started ten games for the Rebels last season, and had two interceptions and 41 tackles.