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What condition are Arizona’s cornerbacks in heading into spring practice?

A mix of youth, experience and experienced youth

arizona-wildcats-spring-football-practice-preview-position-cornerbacks-lorenzo-burns-jace-whittaker Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

This is the third in a series of reports in which we try to determine if the Arizona Wildcats’ position groups are in strong, stable, unstable, serious or critical condition heading into spring ball, which begins Monday. Next up: cornerbacks.

Returning Starters: Lorenzo Burns, Jace Whittaker

Backups: Malcolm Holland Azizi Hearn, McKenzie Barnes, Malik Hausman, Christian Young, Troy Young

Key Additions: Chris Roland, Maurice Gaines, Bobby Wolfe

Departures: Antonio Parks, Sammy Morrison

The Arizona Wildcats desperately needed bodies last season at cornerback, the result of poor academics and injuries to key players.

Jace Whittaker sat out almost the entire year with a shoulder injury. Key reserve and walk-on Malcolm Holland suffered an injury in training camp, which kept him out for the season as well.

Meanwhile a promising talent in Tony Wallace was removed from the program due to academics and three-star 2018 signee Jhevon Hill never qualified.

That gave an extremely young group a load of experience and makes the group that much stronger heading into 2019.

Assuming both stay in good health, Whittaker and Lorenzo Burns are the top two starting corners.

Whittaker has proven he can hang with some of the top receivers in the Pac-12, but now just need to focus on health. Burns has been progressing well each season and returns returns for his third season as a starter.

Walk-on Azizi Hearn stepped up big time last season earning reps early in the season and maintained his role all season long, eventually starting. He was a top-1,200 recruit coming out of high school and a guy who could earn himself a scholarship this off-season.

Next up is likely McKenzie Barnes, a long, young corner who earned some reps as a true freshman. The potential is there and this can be a huge spring for him to breakout.

Malik Hausman was out for his freshman year with a torn ACL prior to his senior season of high school. He still has some time develop but hopefully he can use this spring to slow things down and crack and the rotation.

Arizona brings in two designated corners from the 2019 class in Chris Roland and Maurice Gaines.

Roland enrolled early and is on campus, able to get a spring under his belt. He’s an electrifying athlete, similar to that of Cam Denson, and he’ll be relied upon for immediate depth depending on how the movement between safety and corner shakes out.

Also enrolled and on campus is Gaines, a long 6-foot-2 corner who took the prep school route and blew up late in his recruiting process. Given his size and the extra year he had coming out of high school, he is a bit more of a developed prospect.

Bobby Wolfe primarily played corner in high school but Arizona announced him as a safety, so it will be interesting to see how he is utilized this spring as an early enrollee. He’s a supreme talent at corner that is easily in the mix to see playing time, it just depends where the staff likes him best and.

Also in the corner/safety category is Troy Young and Christian Young who both have showed up at corner in the past. Christian played heavily at corner and effectively served as a co-starter with Hearn. Both Troy and Christian both should move back to safety heading into 2019. Still, they provide some insurance for the group should things get dicey later this season.

Condition: Stable

There is a good mix of talent here. Considering how well the group did last season throwing in walk-ons, true freshmen and converted safeties under position coach Demetrice Martin, this group should be just fine.

We know what we have with Burns and Whittaker, plus the young depth comes back with a bit of experience. There are two new freshman corners with unique talents of their own, and a mix of safeties who have proven that they can play corner as well.


What condition are Arizona’s corners in?

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