Nebraska Cornhuskers cornerback Braxton Clark looks back at team during scrimmage game
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

‘Whole Body of Work’ Will Determine Open Cornerback Battle for Huskers

August 24, 2021

Competition has been the word of fall camp this year for Nebraska. Many position groups have seen increased competition. The two positions that have seen the most competition are running back and cornerback. Running back seems to have been settled.

What hasn’t been settled is the starting cornerback spot opposite of Cam Taylor-Britt. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander noted two players have pulled ahead. The battle for the starting job is now between Quinton Newsome and Braxton Clark. It’s not quite decided yet if one player will hold down the spot or if we’ll see a rotation of players. We haven’t seen much rotation from defensive backs coach Travis Fisher at Nebraska. That might not be how he’d prefer to do things going forward, however.

“I think Coach Fisher, he really likes to rotate guys. At least three safeties and three corners,” Chinander said.

“I don’t know if he’s always felt great about the next man in or we’ve just had two guys that were taking over those spots. I think that he would like to rotate at least one guy at each position throughout the year. Maybe Cam gets most of the reps because he is who he is. Then that other spot is a rotational spot. I think he’s going to make that decision through this week.”

The battle between Clark and Newsome has been going on since spring football. The coaching staff has a large bank of information to determine the winner of the battle. That doesn’t mean the answer will be clear cut. It’s been back and forth for a long time.

“To be honest you have to look at a whole body of work,” Chinander said. “One guy kind of pulled out and then the other guy closed the gap. And then the other guy pulled out and the other guy closed the gap. I know it sounds like we’re holding something back. But that thing is pretty tight right now.”

Where there is a difference between Newsome and Clark is in their physical stature. Newsome is a good-sized cornerback standing at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds. Clark is big for a coenerback. There aren’t many 6-foot-4, 200-pound corners roaming the field. That difference is reflected in their skillsets.

“Braxton’s got ultra-length. Quinton probably has a little bit better transition skills but both of them play the ball really well,” Chinander said.

“Braxton plays the ball really well. Quinton can do some things jumping some inside and under routes. Their games are a little bit different but they both have really good attributes and really good skill sets.”

The Huskers seem to have good options to start at the cornerback spot against Illinois this weekend. Depth is always needed in football so it’s not a bad thing that the race is close. With how much teams pass the ball both will be needed on game days.

It may take a Saturday or two to figure out who the main man is.

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