[Updated] Everyone knows who Florida’s two starting cornerbacks are. They’re those two sophomores who established themselves as true freshmen last fall — Marco Wilson and CJ Henderson.
With the concerns about depth at that position, today we’re going to look at the corners behind the corners — sophomore Brian Edwards and true freshman Trey Dean.
Edwards and Dean emerged as the No. 1 backups to Wilson and Henderson this spring. Both made progress in the spring, both are expected to be in the playing rotation in the fall.
“Trey Dean and Brian Edwards are making strong pushes,” UF cornerbacks coach Charlton Warren said. “They’re guys that come to work every day. They bring a competitive nature.”
Edwards’ highlight moment in the spring came in the first scrimmage, when he returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdowns.
“Spring went well, it went real good,” Edwards said. “Knowing the new calls, going through the different schemes, and just having my IQ for football go up.”
Edwards played in 10 games as a true freshman last season, mostly on special teams. He’s expecting to have an expanded role on defense in 2018.
“Oh, yeah, I will play a lot this year,” he said. “I know last year I played a lot of special teams. But expectation is to get in the game this year and make a lot of plays for my team.”
Edwards was a first team Class 8A all-state performer in his senior season at Miramar High School. At 6-foot-2, 183 pounds, he’s a big corner who matched up well against UF’s taller receivers in the spring.
Dean is a similar body type at 6-2, 181. He had a somewhat inconsistent spring, but that’s pretty much what’s expected from a true freshman playing such a demanding position.
“He’s a guy that’s come in here as a mid-year enrollee and he’s competed well,” Warren said. “He’s trying to learn a playbook and manage school. He’s given effort. He’s growing his football IQ, growing his skill set and technique. It’s a day-by-day process.
“He works hard, he brings a great mindset to practice. The little things, like eye discipline and technique and fundamentals, they’re getting better, but he’s going to have to be more consistent just like all the group.”
Warren is familiar with Dean and his skill set, having recruited him when he was the secondary coach at Tennessee last year.
Warren said Dean has a big upside.
“Any time you’re looking at corners, you’re looking at long, rangy, athletic guys with a high competitive nature,” Warren said. “He was just one of those guys that has that height, that length, that competitive nature. He’s got things that are very, very intriguing, a guy who can run with ball skills.
“The skill set and makeup is what you look for at a corner at this level, he has those tools. Now that he’s here, we’ve got to get him ready to play by learning the playbook, growing his football IQ and getting his fundamentals and technique a lot better.”
Warren said Dean and Edwards need to improve their consistency. It’s a must, because they are going to be counted on to play this season behind the starting corners.
“They need to be more consistent in what we’re trying to do,” Warren said. “They’re embracing it, which is step one. They’re embracing it and we want to keep pushing.
“They’ve just got to keep growing in the scheme.”