Ranking Kansas football position units: No. 9, cornerbacks
Second of a 10-part series ranking Kansas football positions from weakest to strongest:
The Kansas pass defense ranked a respectable 54th in 2016 with 219.8 yards allowed, in part because defensive end Dorance Armstrong (10 sacks) did such a good job of making quarterbacks hurry.
But a closer look at some other numbers show that for a unit that had the benefit of a strong pass rush, the secondary didn’t do a terrific job of shutting down receivers. Kansas allowed 26 touchdown passes, 106th in the nation, and had 10 interceptions (68th). The Jayhawks allowed 7.4 yards per pass attempt (76th).
Both starting cornerbacks, Marnez Ogletree and Brandon Stewart, were seniors and neither was particularly bold in terms of playing the best receivers of the Big 12 tightly, playing off of them for fear of getting burned deep. But they both had more experience than Kansas will have at corner this season.
Hasan Defense, who played one year of football in junior college before transferring to Kansas, has the most talent of eight cornerbacks who will try to secure one of the two starting corner positions. Defense likely will be one of them, but the picture grows hazier when trying to guess the other.
Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry were excited to land juco corner Shakial Taylor, a 6-foot, 175-pound junior who played for South Dakota State in a victory against Kansas in 2015, then left to play a season in junior college in hopes of landing an offer from an FBS school. It worked. Taylor first two years of high school in Florida and then moved to Arizona to live with his uncle, Robert Nelson, then a cornerback at Arizona State and now with the Houston Texans. Taylor’s shoulder injury limited his spring workouts, but he still has a strong shot at winning a starting job.
Sophomore Kyle Mayberry, who played sparingly as a true freshman, will try to beat out one of the juco additions. Mayberry had an encouraging spring and will play a lot. Mayberry’s classmate Julian Chandler played in the season-opening victory against Rhode Island, suffered an injury and missed the rest of the season. He has a good chance to open the season on the depth chart with the second team.