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2021 position breakdown: Cornerbacks

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NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Baylor

Dec 12, 2020; Waco, Texas, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Christian Holmes (0) gestures after tackling Baylor Bears wide receiver Gavin Holmes (6) during the first half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Rodarius Williams sat on his front porch with his head in his hands. 

Consoled by his mother, he anxiously awaited for his phone to ring. As the NFL draft crept closer to the seventh, and final round, the former Oklahoma State cornerback knew time was running out to hear his named called. 

Eventually, the call did come. In the sixth round, with the No. 201 overall pick, Williams was selected by the New York Giants, and found himself packing his bags for East Rutherford that evening. 

While Williams would be filling in an opening in New York, he was leaving an even bigger opening back in Stillwater. 

Since arriving on campus in 2016, Williams started 48 consecutive games, an OSU record, and was regarded as one of the better shutdown cornerbacks at the college level. 

"We’ll have a couple corners that’ll be in the rotation that will have to learn on the run," coach Mike Gundy said. "The other guys, they’ve all played forever and they should be better of eliminating getting their eyes violated on run-pass which is what happens in this league."

With Williams' departure, senior Jarrick Bernard-Converse assumes the role of leader on the team. Similar to Williams, Bernard-Converse currently leads the team in consecutive starts with 33. 

“You have to start with trusting each other and trusting the scheme that coach (Jim) Knowles is telling us to do," Bernard-Converse said. "Just going out and competing every day and playing our hardest and doing our job. I think that is going to be our key focus this year for getting us to the top."

The starter alongside Williams last season, Bernard-Converse led the cornerback corps in tackles with 32, 27 of which were unassisted. 

Bernard-Converse's starting spot is solidified, but the other remaining opening could land with one of two players. 

Graduate transfer Christian Holmes used his extra year of eligibility to return to OSU, after appearing in all 11 games last season. Holmes led the cornerbacks in tackles for loss with three, and was credited with 25 tackles in 2020. 

Junior Thomas Harper also is a viable starter for the Cowboys. Harper also played in all 11 games last season, totaling 31 tackles, and interception and fumble recovery. 

While the starting rotation is set, the cornerback group will be able to flex its depth this season. 

Korie Black, Jabbar Muhammad, Demarco Jones and Jordan Reagan are all sophomores or below heading into the season, and have received considerable praise from Gundy. 

“The jump (Black) made from last year to this year is phenomenal,” safety Tre Sterling said. “The footwork he has, the speed he has and breaking on balls and routes. He definitely is balling out and chasing a (starting) spot right now.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com