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August 6, 2011

Coach's Corner: Cornerback

As a follow up to our Position Snapshot of the Golden Hurricane cornerbacks, we dive into the mind of Tulsa head football coach Bill Blankenship for his thoughts on his group of corners, as well as the current depth-chart at the start of fall camp.

Due to solid spring performances, senior John Flanders and junior Lowell Rose headed into fall camp as the starters on the corners of the defense.

"Coming out of spring, John Flanders and Lowell were really, really good," said Blankenship. "The secondary scheme is not that much different than what they were being taught, it's kind of how we are doing it. The receivers had a hard time much of the spring with the techniques that both John and Lowell were using on them.

"They were doing a great job, especially in their zone coverage. Those two guys are far and away the best two on the field."

Pushing for more and more time behind those two is 5-foot-9 junior Justin Skillens. He had a solid season in 2010 after converting from wide receiver.

"Justin Skillens is going to get a lot of playing time," Blankenship described. "He's probably the third corner and will come in on nickel situations. He gets a little bit outsized sometimes, but he's really smart and makes the right decisions."

After those three, the battle for spots on the depth chart will be between junior transfer J.D. Ratliff and seniors Milton Howell and Reid Singleton.

"We were really pleased with J.D. Ratliff coming in for the spring," Blankenship described. "He didn't get to go finish through spring ball. I think his was shoulder surgery. He'll be fine. Throw in the mix Reid Singleton and Milton Howell. We moved Milton to corner, and he's going to fight for playing time. He was safety for half of spring.

"Coming out of spring, it was Justin and Milton, and J.D. was behind them. Milton gives you a physical presence at corner that the other guys don't have. He's a physical player. He's kind of freed himself up. Safety was harder for him, just seeing everything. Here, at corner, you just cover the guy, and he does that pretty well."

Through the first three fall practices, Flanders remains locked in at boundary corner and Rose is atop the depth chart at field corner. Skillens, Singleton, Howell and Ratliff are currently rotating at both spots in the second group.

Depth Chart

CB1 - John Flanders, Sr., 5-10, 175
CB2 - Milton Howell, Sr., 6-0, 180
CB3 - J.D. Ratliff, Jr., 5-9, 174

CB1 - Lowell Rose, Jr., 6-0, 186
CB2 - Justin Skillens, Jr., 5-9, 180
CB3 - Reid Singleton, Sr, 5-10, 180

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