by Adam Gonzales
Tucson, Ariz. – With fall camp in full swing, University of Arizona football is making progress every day. Senior Jonathan McKnight is looking to become a leader among the cornerbacks with the departure of Shaquille Richardson to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2014 NFL Draft.
“I’m trying to do everything a leader is supposed to do,” McKnight said. “I’ve been in the film room a lot and I pay attention to the mistakes I’ve made so I can show the younger players how to avoid making them.”
There is no doubt that this is an important year for the redshirt senior from River Ridge, La. He has been a vital part to the Arizona defense for the past three years, and with a young group of cornerbacks, there isn’t much room for error.
“He’s huge for us,” cornerbacks coach David Lockwood said. “He’s matured and he knows what he needs to be doing. He is playing with more confidence, is more vocal, and is becoming a good leader. This will be his third year starting for us, and we’re expecting production from him.”
Nobody is guaranteed the second cornerback spot across from McKnight but Jarvis McCall Jr. is the first player that comes to mind when Lockwood looks to fill the position.
“Jarvis McCall is playing well for us right now,” Lockwood said. “He’s very long and it will be tough to get the ball over him down the field.”
McCall redshirted his freshman year to adapt to the college game, and that turned out to be the best decision for McCall.
“He improved so much over the summer,” Lockwood said. “If you watched him a year ago, you wouldn’t think he was the same player because he has gotten himself in shape.”
McCall realized at this time last year that he had a lot of work to do and was a long way from finding himself on the field but he worked hard and now finds himself on the field often.
“Last year at this time, I was on the third string, and I could barely run on the third string,” McCall said. “It was a tough transition for me with the speed of the college game but now I’m more comfortable with everything.”
Redshirt senior Brendan Murphy, sophomore Devin Holiday, junior Patrick Glover and freshman Cam Denson also figure to be in the mix for that second corner spot.
Murphy is competing for a bigger role this year after mainly being a part of the special teams throughout his career at Arizona. He is also coming off an injury from the 2013 season, so he’ll be looking for redemption his final campaign.
Holiday played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2013 at cornerback and on special teams. He totaled seven tackles, one interception and one pass breakup. The sophomore figures to have a good chance of seeing the field because of the experience he has.
Glover, a junior college transfer, earned second-team all-conference honors at Scottsdale Community College. He had success playing at the JUCO level, and he will be looking to have that same success.
Denson, a Tucson native, was a star high school player for 2013 Arizona State Champions Salpointe Catholic High School where he played wide receiver and defensive back. Head coach Rich Rodriguez felt that he would have the most success playing cornerback, so he has been focusing on becoming the best he can at that position.
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