A season after losing a first round pick Artie Burns to the NFL and starter Tracy Howard, who also started as an undrafted rookie for the Cleveland Browns, Miami came into the season with a question mark at the cornerback position. With former Hurricane first round draft pick, Mike Rumph, as the new position coach the current players got better even with the aforementioned departures. The only cornerback on the roster with any experience just happened to be a pretty good one in Corn Elder. After playing basketball as well as football his first two seasons at Miami, Elder gave up basketball in order to focus on football. The decision paid off as the senior restored the proud tradition of hard-nosed cornerbacks at Miami.
2016 Miami Hurricanes Position Review: Cornerbacks
The Nashville, TN native was the most consistent player that Miami had on a top ranked defense last season. That statement alone shows how much impact he had but further than that Corn only finished the season with one interception, but was voted by the coaches in the ACC as a first-team selection. The senior produced career highs in total tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, forced fumbles and pass breakups. His versatility allowed Miami to help younger players at the position get meaningful game experience while Elder played another position. He leaves Miami setting a new standard as to how the position is to be played. Elder was able to change the entire game plan of coaches by not allowing the offense to get any momentum by throwing nor running the ball to where he was on the field.
— Ephraim Banda (@CoachBanda) March 7, 2017
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz benefited strongly from his dismissal as coordinator at Texas. It was there that Diaz recruited Colbert who was a safety there but due to injuries and coaches decisions he did not play much. Diaz’s quality control assistant at the time is current safeties coach Ephraim Banda, who placed the call to Colbert to transfer after he graduated. The decision paid off for both sides as Colbert was able to play well in just eight games due to a broken forearm. He is being mentioned as a late round pick in this year’s draft. Coaches have been raving about Colbert since his arrival at Miami. He has the most potential on any defensive back on Miami’s team because of his size (6’2″, 205 pounds) and his speed (former track star). He came to Miami as a safety but has shown the ability to be a lockdown corner at his size so there is a level of intrigue with him moving to the next level.
Was doing tape on 2 Miami DBs when a 3rd guy made himself known..don’t know if Adrian Colbert can play- but will find out ! 3 big hits at CB pic.twitter.com/BU3YxCAdC2
— Mike Mayock (@MikeMayock) December 6, 2016
Young was a top priority for Miami’s staff when they first arrived because he was committed to head coach Mark Richt prior to being fired from Georgia, and he already resided in south Florida. He cracked the starting lineup after Colbert’s injury while being Miami’s only freshman in the defensive backfield. That didn’t stop Young from taking the reins for the rest of the year. He racked up 23 tackles in four starts and collected a critical interception during the NC State game after a lengthy drive. Coaches expect Young to become an anchor at the position and continue to progress to where he is among the top defenders in the conference.
Redwine opened up the season as one of Miami’s starters during the first stretch of the season. He would be passed up by some other cornerbacks late in the season. Despite that, Redwine was still a productive player whenever he saw the field. There is also a possibility that he could also change positions because of his size and tackling ability.
Henley was strictly a reserve cornerback who saw playing time through special teams going into his junior season. He’s played sparingly thus far since coming to Miami. He needs to improve in the spring in order to see more playing time.
Mayes is another reserve player who was a key component to special teams. He received playing time in games that were already decided, where he had good showings. Getting ready to enter his third spring, he needs to show improvement in order for his role to change.
One of the top special team players for the Canes, Jackson recovered a fumbled punt in the end zone against Notre Dame for a touchdown. Though a backup, he was able to put his talent on display during games in which he played. He ended the season on a strong note and could also be moved to safety in order to get him on the field in the upcoming season.
This position actually got better after losing two NFL starters which says something about the talent as well as the coaching. Overall, the strong play of Corn Elder ascended the play of everyone else, and it will be interesting to see this group without him. The spring football period will be an important time for this position as they need to focus on refining their skills and progressing. The spring may also be the last opportunity for many in this group as Miami has recruited three more cornerbacks to help fill the void of Elder and Colbert. Trajan Bandy is a high school senior that coaches have referred to as “the dog of Miami”. Jhavonte Dean was ranked the number two junior college prospect at his position and on top of that Miami recently added FCS All-American Dee Delaney through graduate transfer.