Think the president has a tough job? Try playing cornerback. Your mistakes are glaring, costly and unforgiveable— worse, they can’t be covered up or blamed on someone else.
Sounds like a politician’s nightmare!
In the NFL, you must defy the laws of nature going against receivers with wing spans that belong in the museum of natural history and make a CB feel as if he’s in Jurassic Park.
Cornerbacks are the sacrificial lamb of a football team; make a costly error and they are deemed untrustworthy; can’t stop the runaway train that broke through the front seven and they are labeled soft.
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It’s all the more reason folks around here should feel blessed. With another football season on the horizon, we are living in Cornerback Heaven.
Fabian Washington, Mike Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have made this a place the NFL sees as sacred ground.
Washington laid the foundation in 2005 when he was 23d overall pick in the NFL draft. Rodgers-Cromartie (16th) and Jenkins (25th) followed in ’08.
Three first-round CBs for a county that had only five public high school varsity teams at the time is stuff Hollywood would have a tough time selling.
A few came before them: Tyrone Williams was a third-round pick in 1996, and Alvoid Mays was chosen in the eighth round in 1989. Both of them and Rodgers-Cromartie have played in the Super Bowl.
All have God-given speed and nerves of steel.
There were others who flirted with the NFL, though the romance was short: Southeast’s Ukee Dozier played briefly with Minnesota and the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League.
The best part is the pipeline is not closed. This fraternity will likely be expanding its membership.
Southeast grad Jon Dowling, who at 6-4 has the height and speed to make defensive coordinators drool, would seem a shoo-in. But it appears Florida is going to turn him into a receiver despite the 15 interceptions he collected his junior year.
Palmetto’s Mistral Raymond, entering his senior year at USF, is a corner/safety who might garner interest at the next level. Manatee grad Randy Kelly hopes to turn his record-setting indoor football league season into an NFL contract.
But the next likely candidates for Cornerback Heaven are two youngsters heading into their junior year of high school; Southeast’s Brian Poole Jr. and Manatee’s Clinton Heaven, who already has the name.
Poole has sub 4.4-second speed in the 40, is athletic and comes from a football family that includes a dad and two uncles, who played for Southeast.
At 6-1, 184, Heaven might be more suited for safety, but he’s a guy who can cover and be physical. He has been offered by Steve Spurrier, who certainly knows a ball hawk when he sees one.
Both are rated among the top 50 college prospects in the class of 2012.
The only question is whether they can withstand the rigors of the position over the long run.
The toughest thing for a CB might be taking on runners who outweigh you by 30-something pounds. It can put you under a surgeon’s knife and measure your tolerance for pain.
In other words, it tests your manhood.
Washington (5-11, 170) had offseason surgeries for a bulging disc in his neck and a torn ACL. Good news is he was taken off the PUP list just before camp and participated in practice Friday.
Rodgers-Cromartie, coming off surgery for a torn MCL injury in the playoffs, led Arizona with six interceptions, while Jenkins topped Dallas with five picks as both earned Pro Bowl honors.
They all proved to be fearless, which is the last test before entering the sacred ground of Cornerback Heaven.