TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 09: Wide receiver James Rodgers #8 of the Oregon State Beavers runs with the ball after a reception past Robert Golden #1 of the Arizona Wildcats during the second quarter of the college football game at Arizona Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Robert Golden's fellow cornerbacks keep bringing it up. Their fearless leader, who went from bench players to cornerback, to safety and back to cornerback, just won't stop talking.
For the Arizona Wildcats defense, that's a good thing. Communication, especially from the safety position, is essential. Plus, there's nothing wrong with getting under the skin of Arizona's wide receiving core, one that could use a good humbling every once in a while to keep their egos in check.
"Just playing the safety position," says Golden, "you've got to be the vocal leader out there. You've got to make all the checks, you've got to be the one bringing the intensity all day."
"The receivers especially, I try to get at them in practice," he added. "It makes it competitive."
Both teammates in senior Trevin Wade and freshman Cortez Johnson have complimented Golden's approach. It's a far-cry from Wade's temper of leader by example. But for the youngster in Johnson, the jawing from Golden has shown the freshman from New Orleans how to play with confidence.
Johnson has leaped into the conversation in the cornerback crew, showing nice instincts in Saturday's spring game, one time hittng a receiver as the ball arrived to disrupt an easy pass completion.
"As the days go on, I get more and more confidence by Rob Golden and Trevin Wade teaching me a lot," Johnson said on Monday. "Just be yourself, just play your game. When coach is looking at you, don't to do more than you can do. Just play your game and be the best you can be."
And for Golden, the clear leader in the secondary, those teachings -- ones that were once lessons that he had to learn -- could land him a gig in the NFL. He said it took two seasons to finally grasp the complexity of Arizona's defensive schemes. After those two years, the coaching staff moved him from cornerback to safety.
And though he returned last season at the cornerback slot, his leadership capabilities (i.e. all that s***-talking) made him an indispensable leader to move him back to safety for his final go-around.
Where will he play should he make the professional ranks? Either corner or safety, Rob feels comfortable.
"I'm both corner and safety," he said with confidence. "I say maybe safety; safety, nickel. One of them."