Next up in the series are the corners. A position that we were all genuinely worried about, with a good reason to be, that blossomed as the year went on to be one of the strengths of the entire team.
Returners(5): Ja’Sir Taylor(Super Senior), Ty Hardimon(RS Junior), Kenneth Dicks III(RS Sophomore), Caelen Carson(Freshman), Gavin Holmes(Freshman)
Newcomers(2): DaShawn Jones(Freshman), Isaiah Wingfield(Graduate Transfer, 2 years of eligibility)
Departures(2): Peyton Woulard(transfer), Isaiah Essissima(transfer)
The first 3 games of the 2020 season were uh not fantastic! This was the unit that was absolutely decimated by COVID and injuries. But once they got healthy, they were one of the better units in the ACC.
This group starts and ends with Ja’Sir Taylor. Deciding to return for his super senior year was one of the best results of an otherwise tumultuous season for the team. There’s no question he’s the leader of this group. Out of returning players, Taylor ranks 4th in the ACC in coverage according to PFF. Taylor racked up 42 tackles, 6 PBUs, and two interceptions(1 for a touchdown), while only allowing 1 touchdown and less than 400 yards on the season. It’s going to be interesting to see just how much better he gets now that he isn’t in his first year as an outside corner.
plz do not mind me am just dumping gifs but also hi Ja'Sir pic.twitter.com/3uKcHVCVwW— DeColdest Debro (@CamLemons_) February 21, 2021
Remember how I said Ja’Sir was 4th in the ACC? Caelen Carson comes in at 3rd at the same statistic. The freshman out of Waldorf, MD got his feet wet against NC State and Campbell, but really made the most of his opportunities from the Virginia game onwards. The only touchdown he allowed all year was just an absurd pitch and catch in the UNC game, so won’t fault him there but the rest of the stats are some of the best in the country, not just the ACC. He allowed a 44% completion rate on 36 targets, which was good for 31st nationally and 3rd in the ACC. His 107 yards allowed were the 10th fewest in the country and 2nd in the conference. He was just flat out good last year, and now while still being a freshman, gets a full spring and fall to improve his craft.
The rest of the returning bunch is a mixed bag. Ty Hardimon is going into his 5th year and while he’s seemed like a great leader in the locker room, just hasn’t produced all that much on the field. If you follow me, it’s no secret that I’m a fan of Kenneth Dicks III, an athletic freak who’s been both moved around a bit as well as injured off and on. Entering his 4th year seems like a make-or-break one for him, if he can stay healthy and locked in, it’s very easy to see him carve out a role. Gavin Holmes is a fun one to look back at. The speedster from Louisiana came out with a bang in his first full game action against Syracuse with a pick-six, but injured his hamstring on that play and we didn’t see him again the rest of the year. If he’s actually healthy, the trio of him, Taylor, and Carson would be a terrifying starting trio in the ACC.
When it comes to the newcomers, there’s excitement but also question marks. They’ll also be without both of the newcomers until the summer. First, is Harvard transfer Isaiah Wingfield. A transfer from Harvard, Wingfield was First Team All-Ivy in 2019. Wingfield logged 40 tackles, 5 pass breakups, and an interception that year and the Ivy decided to not play in 2020. While the eyebrows will raise on the level of competition from the Ivy League to the ACC, there have been a fair amount of guys make the jump and transition just fine. The other newcomer is DaShawn Jones. A freshman out of Maryland that will be on campus come summer, seems like a good sized player with really good length. He also ran an 11.25 100 meter dash his sophomore year, which I’m assuming would be cut down by now. Size and speed is always welcome.
Last Thoughts: While on paper, returning the players that made this unit good, it’s an injury or two away from becoming what we saw out of the safeties last year in terms of barren. The focus has to be on getting Hardimon, Kenneth, and Holmes up to speed before the newcomers come in the fall.
My pick for an X-Factor this spring? Kenneth Dicks III. We can see the potential out of Holmes when he’s healthy and it’s just a matter of if they can keep him healthy. If they can feel comfortable with a 4th corner before the other reinforcements arrive then the sky’s the limit.