It's no coincidence that four of the players on Huskeronline.com's list of the top-five cornerbacks in the Big 12 Conference come from two of the league's best teams. In a conference fueled by high-flying passing attacks, some of the nation's premier shutdown corners have been bred as a result. Here's is how we see the cornerback position in the Big 12 heading into fall camp.
Nebraska's Prince Amukamara finally had the breakout year last season everyone had been waiting for, and now his potential is limitless. After needing only to put it all together mentally to emerge as one of the better corners in the Big 12, Amukamara is now on pace to do that and one better by solidifying himself as one of the best in the country. He might not put up numbers like the five interceptions and 11 pass breakups he had last year, but that will only be because teams will be scared to throw in his direction.
2. Aaron Williams, Texas, 6-1, 192, Jr.
Junior Aaron Williams is well on his way to becoming the next Texas cornerback to go on to be a first-round draft pick. One of the Big 12's top playmakers at the position, Williams blends speed, quickness, technique and physicality as good as anyone in the country, and there may not be anyone better in man-to-man coverage. The list of great Longhorn cornerbacks goes back for decades, and there's every reason to believe Williams has a chance to rank right along with the best of them when he's done.
3. Curtis Brown, Texas, 6-0, 180, Sr.
It's almost an embarrassment of riches for Texas to talk about Williams and then move on to senior Curtis Brown. Another potential first-round selection next spring, Brown ranked only behind Earl Thomas - the No. 14 overall pick this year - on the team with 15 pass breakups last season, and he should have plenty of chances to showcase his talents lining up across from Williams. Needless to say, no team is going to look forward to throwing the ball against the Longhorns this year.
4. Carl Gettis, Missouri, 5-11, 195, Sr.
After earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors each of his first three seasons, this could very well be the year where Missouri's Carl Gettis finally earns some more prestigious post-season hardware. Gettis's numbers (one interception and five PBUs) certainly don't reflect the caliber of player he is, though he is still the Tigers' active leader in career tackles (188). It's safe to say NFL scouts won't be deterred from drafting Gettis just because of a small stat line.
5. Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska, 5-10, 195, Jr.
No player stands to gain more individually than Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard. Playing across from one of the most dangerous corners in college football, there's little doubt that teams are going to test Dennard all season. The only problem with that is he's talented enough to make teams pay severely for doing so. This could be a huge year for Dennard, and he could go a long way in establishing himself as the best cornerback in the league (assuming there still is a Big 12) heading into the 2011 season.