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Arizona’s cornerback group has experience, depth for 2019

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Suddenly, CB appears to be one of Arizona’s best position groups

arizona-wildcats-christian-young-2021-opt-ankle-viper-don-brown-dudzinski-houston-injury-spring Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats were hit hard by injuries at cornerback in 2018, turning what was supposed to be a solid group into a young and inexperienced one.

Arizona’s top corner, senior Jace Whittaker, suffered a shoulder injury which kept him out for all but one game. Preseason injuries to walk-on Malcolm Holland and fourth-year contributor Sammy Morrison also left the group thin.

Grades also impacted Arizona’s CB group. Three-star recruit Jhevon Hill never made it to campus after he failed to qualify, while sophomore Tony Wallace also failed to qualify after what looked to be a promising career in the few games he played as a true freshman.

Arizona landed a surprise grad transfer in Tim Hough after he originally committed to Oregon, although that experiment did not end well for either party. Hough was dismissed from the team midway through the 2018 season.

But what was Arizona’s most thin position last season now might be one of their best groups for 2019.

Arizona will likely return Whittaker. While he has an option to be a graduate transfer, that seems unlikely the longer we head into the offseason.

We also get another year of Lorenzo Burns, who will enter his third season as a starter. He got better throughout his freshman campaign, going from often picked on to accumulating five picks which tied him for first in the Pac-12, and his 2018 campaign was a solid one.

Arizona also brings in two 2019 corners with Chris Roland and Maurice Gaines.

Roland, an ultra-athletic playmaker out of Palmdale, Calif., primarily played wide receiver and safety his senior year, so it’ll be interesting to see how he translates over to corner. His senior film looks like he can be a Cam Denson 2.0, and would be far better at wide receiver in my opinion.

Gaines appears to be one of the most underrated prospects in the country after opting to go prep school for a season to make up for a class. Junior college has the better competition, but it also starts your eligibility clock and would have shaved a year off his time.

Once ranked as a top-800 player, he has now dropped below the 1,600 mark. Since October, he has picked up offers to Arkansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Texas and Texas Tech to name a few.

He’s a legitimate starting cornerback. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds he has great and rare size for the position.

Taking a look back at the current roster, the staff also gets more of McKenzie Barnes, a long corner who probably should have played a bigger role than he did as a true freshman.

Playing a bigger role was fellow true freshman Christian Young who stepped in after converting from safety. He has the versatility to play either corner or any of the three safety positions next season.

Walk-on Azizi Hearn also played well above his recruiting ranking this season and will provide great depth once the 2019 class comes. Same goes for Malik Hausman and Antonio Parks as reserves.

And this doesn’t include Bobby Wolfe, a 4-star corner out of Houston ranked just inside the top 350. He’ll be announcing his college decision shortly and enrolling for the spring semester. All indications point to Arizona as his landing spot, adding an elite corner to the rotation.

After a brutal year of losing depth, this is suddenly a very deep and dangerous group under cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin.