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August 10, 2010

UF trying to find second starting corner

FALL PRACTICE COVERAGE: Teryl Austin Q&A | Coaches: Three best linebackers will play | Offense is a mystery | Offense builds around powerful line | Hill the next great UF safety? | Moody healthy, focused on 2010 | Azzanni talks receiver corps | Practice Notes & Quotes | Q&A with Brian White | Thompson ready to step up | Pouncey plans to lead with words, actions | Hunter's in shape, ready to roll | Urban's Overview: Player to transfer | UF focused, not fractured | Thursday Notebook: A new beginning | Florida's top gun | Practice breakdown | Preseason Superlatives

Janoris Jenkins will start at one cornerback spot for the Florida Gators in 2010. This is a given. He knows it. The coaches know it. His teammates know it.

None of them, however, seems to know who will be the other first-team corner.

In fact, whenever asked, each appears to be stumped.

"It's open," Jenkins said. "Everybody has a chance."

When he says "everybody," he isn't kidding. According to first-year Gators defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, several players have a shot at becoming the starter.

"Jeremy Brown and Moses Jenkins are involved in that position in addition to the freshmen," Austin said. "At the end of the day, we know Janoris is one corner. What we're trying to do is find out who is our next corner. Is it Moses, is it Jeremy, is it one of the young guys? What we'll do as we get going, is find out who our second best corner (is). If it's at the boundary side, we'll move him to the field (side). If he's that guy. We're going to put our best players on the field. We owe it to our team."

Janoris Jenkins is a tremendous talent who has 25 career starts and was recently named to the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the country's best defensive back. The player who will start alongside him -- and replace top-10 draft pick Joe Haden -- will have zero college starts.

An athletically gifted sophomore whose ability always has impressed Florida head coach Urban Meyer, Brown appears to be the front-runner. But with Brown, there are always questions about his health. He has yet to take a college snap because of lingering back problems. In the spring, the back was fine, and he performed quite well.

Right now, his health isn't an issue.

But it remains a concern.

"It's full speed ahead for Jeremy," Austin said. "We're pleased with where he is. Great kid. Works his tail off. We're going to keep our fingers crossed and hope that he comes out of this okay."

Moses Jenkins, the other top contender, is a senior who has appeared in 23 games, but mostly on special teams. Jenkins isn't bad (remember, he got stuck behind Haden), and he offers something the other Florida corners lack -- height. He's 6-foot-2 and his speed is better than average.

True freshmen Cody Riggs, Joshua Shaw and Jaylen Watkins also are getting a look. That neither Brown nor Moses Jenkins has been named a starter pretty much assures that.

"Jaylen Watkins looks pretty good," Jenkins said. "He's just got to stay humble and keep his head in the right place."

When fall practice began, Riggs, a state hurdling champ, already was at a disadvantage because he didn't enroll until June. Shaw and Watkins were here for spring practice. Each had his moments, particularly Watkins, who repeatedly found a way to create turnovers, particularly on tipped passes.

"It's tremendously helpful for them (to have been here in the spring), because they get the practice and the pace without the games, so they get acclimated that way," Austin said. "It's a little bit different for the young guys who come in now. They have (preseason) camp. They have to get used to being away from home. Then school starts. These guys (already on campus), that's a huge advantage in their development."

Who will emerge from the pack to replace Haden?

Right now, it's anyone's guess.

"There's gonna be some good competition over there," Janoris Jenkins said. "All those guys are working hard."


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