Welcome to our new series in which we try to determine if the Arizona Wildcats’ position groups are in strong, stable, unstable, serious, or critical condition heading into fall camp. Next up are the corners.
- Returning Starters: Lorenzo Burns, Christian Roland-Wallace
- Backups: McKenzie Barnes, Malik Hausman, Bobby Wolfe
- Key Departures: Jace Whittaker
- New Additions: Khary Crump, Edric Whitley
Arizona returns a fairly small group at cornerback but technically return two starters as Jace Whittaker spent his fifth and final year at safety last season.
Lorenzo Burns has a shot to be an All-Pac-12 cornerback this season and a big time piece on the defense. I feel like he has been overshadowed by the likes of Colin Schooler, Tony Fields, Scottie Young and Jace Whittaker. Now I think a lot more will start to notice Burns.
But the starters are only as strong as Christian Roland-Wallace. His freshman season saw some ups and downs but for the most part was solid considering his true freshman status. He’ll continue to learn and grow, using his athleticism to give him some big upside.
The rest of the secondary is in an interesting situation given the coaching change. Personally I feel like cornerback can be a fickle position where coaching, techniques and preferences can change from coach to coach. It can be subjective and we’ll see how Greg Burns asses his group.
Arizona brings in two corner prospects, who were both recruited by Demetrice Martin. Burns now has a smaller but scrappy corner in Khary Crump to help provide some depth and Edric Whitley who at one point was a four-star prospect according to 247Sports. Both had a strong offer mixed in their list, Crump with Oregon and Whitley with Miami. They have a great opportunity, but I’m not sure that either step into a major role immediately.
McKenzie Barnes had a pretty strong role as a true freshman, playing significant snaps at corner. As a sophomore he played more of a special teams role, so the hope is that he gets back into a rotational role because Arizona needs to use all the experience they have. Barnes is an incredibly long corner and still has an immense amount of upside to be CB3.
Entering his fourth year in the program, Malik Hausman has yet to play more than a handful of snaps. Where he stacks up against the two incoming freshmen stack up will be interesting to watch.
Bobby Wolfe is a wildcard here. I have mentioned that he is the most likely of anyone to move to safety to help the depth there. While he could be used at corner, safety feels like a more natural position. He played a decent amount last season, burning his redshirt status but there is still a lot more to be desired considering the huge upside and raw talent he holds. I’d expect his sophomore campaign to show a big jump.
The position group as a whole isn’t in a great spot but it isn’t in a terrible spot either. Lorenzo Burns should continue to rise and hopefully Roland-Wallace will make a nice jump in year two, leaving a good starting duo. Barnes is a good rotational piece making a pretty good top three.
I imagine Wolfe will be either splitting time between corner and safety or moving to safety for good leaving this group incredibly thin. It’s a situation that is asking a true freshman to step up early and I’m not sure if either are Pac-12 ready especially given a smaller summer window for acclimation as well.
You could make an argument for stable but the depth and lack of experience overall, outside of Burns, makes me a little uncertain. Just hope these top three guys can stay healthy all season.