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October 31, 2011When Shawn Corker committed to Texas Tech in the summer of 2009 out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., it was considered one of the biggest gets in the Class of 2010.
At six-foot-1 and 183 pounds back then, Corker dominated opponents as a receiver and as a safety. It was Corker's receiving that caught Tech's eye while other schools, including Alabama, wanted Corker as a defensive back.
The new Red Raider coaching staff has a different outlook for him. But it's not so different.
"It's kind of coach (Tommy Tuberville's) idea," Corker said. "I was practicing at punt return and he saw my ability to jam receivers off the line. I really did a good job at that so coach Tubs was like 'let's try him at cornerback and see how he does.'
"I really got the hang of it and making plays. Here I am today."
Corker, now a redshirt freshman, has some rare physical attributes as a cornerback. For starters, he's 6-foot-1 and 197 pounds and would strike you as more of a safety than a corner. He also has an unusually wide wingspan.
The result is a cornerback who can jam his receiver, run with the receiver and then can potentially outjump and outreach the receiver when the ball is in the air. Add all that to Corker's experience catching as a collegiate receiver.
"My size, speed, I'm more physical (than most cornerbacks)," Corker said. "You don't see defensive backs my size. Receivers yes, defensive backs, no. With me being receiver size, at D.B. is going to help me with the jump balls. My arms are longer than most defensive backs so when I jam you I get my hands on you quicker. My size will help me be a D.B. more than most."
Sounds great, but after just about a week working at cornerback Corker is very likely to see playing time Saturday against Texas in the absence of Tre' Porter who's out with a head injury. Corker expects himself to play opposite of Derrick Mays.
"Tre' Porter is out," Corker said. "Hope he's getting better, we need him back as soon as we can, but yes hopefully I'll be starting. I'm expected to start."
Corker said he's going to be trading some cornerback technique for the knowledge of what a receiver is trying to do.
"Technique is probably my biggest problem right now," Corker said. "But an advantage I have over most defensive backs, me being a receiver, I know what a receiver is going to do in terms of breaking off of a route, coming off of the ball or running the deep ball. I can tell when a player is going to do that."
Regrettably, Corker's career at receiver is probably over. He couldn't overcome the depth in front of him in time and his services are needed at corner and he finished his receiver duties with two catches for 15 yards.
"Yes it is," Corker said when asked if it was disappointing to not get much of an opportunity to play receiver. "You put all your hard work into it and to see something that you love and have a passion for and to see that go away, you know, you start to grow and develop different dreams.
"Now I have the dreams to be a starting corner in the NFL and hopefully it starts with this team."