As someone who has been to East-West Shrine Week for a few years running now, let me tell you that this is a great week to get some depth prospects on your radar, and a good way to judge their skills against the likes of competition they didn't normally face during their college years.
For the cornerback group, this is especially true because playing defensive back has so much to do with chemistry and attitude. Each player has just three days on the practice field to acquire the necessary chemistry to let their talents shine, and they have to be aggressive and confident enough in themselves to take risks -- they have to be outgoing in their talents, if you will.
These are the full list of cornerbacks who will be participating on both the East and West rosters during the week, and let me tell you, there are going to be a handful from this list that you'll carry into your big boards come April.
Let's give you baseline for the names and accolades now so you can get right to the evaluation when Shrine Week kicks off.
The main man to watch from the East roster at the cornerback position is likely Kentucky's Derrick Baity. Baity is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound cornerback who boasts length as his strength. Baity's stats were down this season, as he only recorded one interception and just seven passes defended, but they don't say "you can't teach length" for nothing. He'll have plenty of eyes on him.
If not for Baity, Michael Jackson from Miami will have more than a few fans on Shrine Week. Jackson also possesses good size at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds. A lot of people thought he'd take more of a leap as one of the best cornerbacks in the country this season, but he didn't quite make that kind of jump in 2018. Shrine Week is a chance for him to bounce back.
Elsewhere on the East roster, there are two cornerbacks from the University of South Carolina: Rashad Fenton and Keisean Nixon. Fenton has been a starter on the Gamecocks' defense since 2016, and is coming off his best season in 2018 where he recorded three interceptions. Nixon started his collegiate football career at the JUCO Arizona Western College in Yuma. After being more of special teams players in his first season with the Gamecocks, Nixon took on more of a defensive starter role in 2018.
Last but not least there's Isaiah Wharton from Rutgers. Wharton has a similar build to that of Jackson from Miami, as both are about 6-foot-1, 205 pounds. Wharton has started in all 12 games in each of the last four seasons for Rutgers after redshirting his first year. In 2018, he had career highs in interceptions, tackles, forced fumbles and tackles for loss. If you're looking for a sleeper cornerback from the East roster, this is your guy.
Like Baity on the East side, the man that will likely command most of the attention from the cornerback group on the West side is Mississippi State's Jamal Peters. Peters will automatically get some looks because of his size at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. Peters did not have many starts under his belt before 2018, but his build alone will make teams watch him close all week.
After Peters, it's a lot of smaller school players that fill out the cornerback group on the West roster.
Blace Brown from Troy looks to be the most intriguing. In 2018, he earned All-Sun Belt Third Team honors after coming back from ACL injury in final regular season game in 2017. He finished his final season with 44 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, six passes defended, and ranked second among active FBS players with 12 career interceptions. People praise his football IQ. He's my guy to watch of any cornerback at Shrine Week.
Ka'dar Hollman out of Toledo comes in at 6-foot, 190 pounds. He was a two-year starter. Donnie Lewis Jr. from Tulane played in nearly every game of his collegiate career after redshirting his first season. Jordan Wyatt from SMU had back-to-back seasons with four interceptions in 2016 and 2017. And finally Montre Hartage from Northwestern had nine interceptions in the past three seasons, including five in one year in 2016.
Ball skills and experience seems to be the mantra of the West roster's cornerback group. We'll see how much they live up to it when the first practice whistle blows.