POSITIONAL AWARENESS 2020: CORNERBACK

By Mike Jones on October 14, 2020 at 10:48 am
Matt Hankins wants you to come get it.
© Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen, Iowa City Press-Citizen via Imagn Content Services, LLC
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Positional Awareness is our annual rundown of the Iowa depth chart, from the position where we are most confident in what Kirk Ferentz intends to do to, well, quarterback.

PREVIOUSLY: 

1. Wide Receiver
2. Running Back
3. Tight End

Eligibility Remaining*        
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
8 Matt Hankins SR 6-0/180 Left Cornerback #1          
33 Riley Moss JR 6-1/191 Right Cornerback #1          
 20 Julius Brents SO 6-3/204 Left Cornerback #2          
16 Terry Roberts SO 5-10/177 Right Cornerback #2          
14 Daraun McKinney FR (RS) 5-10/191 Cornerback          
27 Jermari Harris FR (RS) 6-1/177 Cornerback          
14 Brenden Deasfernandes FR 6-1/176 Cornerback          

* These are their current eligibility status, but the NCAA's decision to grant a blanket eligibility waiver to fall athletes (even those who compete this year... which is essentially just football players) mean that everyone here would also have a year of eligibility to use next year. We'll have to wait and see how that decision impacts things moving forward. 


Another One

LC #1: MATT HANKINS (#8, Senior, 6’0, 180 lbs., Marcus, Flower Mound, TX)

Ho hum. Yet another one time 3-star defensive back that Phil Parker has molded into an NFL Draft prospect. Hankins started as far back as 2017 against Nebraska, was your starter in 2018 until he missed five games due to injury and did the same in 2019: started 10 games, missed three to injury. Despite missing three games, he still recorded 58 tackles, two interceptions, and seven pass breakups. Highlights included this excellent pass from Generic Bad Illinois Quarterback:

Despite seeing so much starting time, Hankins didn’t actually record his first interception until November of last season, against Wisconsin. And honestly, that’s sort of him in a nutshell. He isn’t flashy or explosive and doesn’t wow you like, say, Desmond King or Josh Jackson did in the past. Hankins has always been one of the more fundamentally sound players on the field, as seen here:

His strength in run support is what makes him the most valuable defensive back on the field and why he’ll end up in the NFL.

Disposable Hero

RC #1: RILEY MOSS (#33, Junior, 6'1, 191 lbs., Centennial, Ankeny, IA)

He, so remember back in 2018 when Riley Moss tried to cover Purdue wide receiver Terry Wright and did not at all do a good job of it, resulting in him getting benched? Riley Moss remembered! Because in 2019, when Phil Parker put Moss in the game, Purdue went right at him and this happened:

Was that a bad throw? Yes! Does it matter? Not really! I’ve seen cornerbacks drop worse passes than that. Moss has seen it all. He’s started and been benched. He’s started and been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week. He’s been brought off the bench to replace a starter. He’s like the Tyrod Taylor of college cornerbacks. Last season he injured his hip in week one and missed significant time, returning against Purdue. He only finished with five tackles but somehow had two interceptions, the one seen above and this memorable one (in Spanish!):

Moss has speed and ballhawking skills but for some reason he constantly finds himself picked on by opposing Big Ten quarterbacks. As long as he keeps picking the ball off, I guess they can keep testing him.

While You Wait for the Others

LC #2: JULIUS BRENTS (#20, Sophomore, 6'3, 204 lbs., Warren Central, Indianapolis, IN)
RC #2: TERRY ROBERTS (#16, Sophomore, 5'10, 177 lbs., Cathedral Prep, Erie, PA)

I could basically copy and paste the Brents Positional Awareness summary from 2019 because of how last year went. Again, he was once Iowa’s highest-rated recruit (per Rivals) in 2017, had a nice year in 2018 and was listed as Ojemudia’s backup heading into last season. Then he got banged up in training camp and despite appearing on the depth chart, he only played in one game. So, he took advantage of a redshirt and is a sophomore yet again. We haven’t really seen Brents making plays -- or seen him in general since the 2018 Minnesota game -- so we’ll see what kind of impact he's able to makes this year.

With so many injuries last season, redshirt freshman Terry Roberts was able to take advantage. You’ll remember the lightly recruited Roberts as the guy who attended the same high school as Bob Sanders and worked with Jovon Johnson. Parker was high on Roberts heading into 2019 and that would explain why he played in 12 games. There weren’t any highlights but considering how Parker talks about Roberts, he could be yet another NFL prospect come 2022.

They Were Only Freshmen

DARAUN MCKINNEY (#14, Redshirt Freshman, 5'10, 191 lbs., River Rouge, River Rogue, MI)
JERMARI HARRIS (#27, Redshirt Freshman, 6'1, 177 lbs., Montini Catholic, Chicago, IL)
BRENDEN DEASFERNANDES (#17, Freshman, 6'0, 176 lbs., Belleville, Belleville, MI)

McKinney was a 3-star prospect with a number of G5 offers who originally committed to NIU before seeing the light. He didn’t see any action last season and redshirted. Harris had a similar recruiting profile but played in a few games on special teams and ended up using a redshirt as well. Deasfernandes had an interesting offer sheet of…Davenport University (which is actually in Grand Rapids, Michigan, not Davenport, Iowa), Northwood University (in central Michigan) and Southeast Missouri State (which actually IS in southeast Missouri). We’ll consider him yet another Phil Parker project.

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