By John Shinn
CNHI News Service
NORMAN, Okla. —
The spring wasn’t a great time for Aaron Colvin. Oklahoma was installing a new defense under Mike Stoops. Colvin was watching it from the sidelines while recovering from shoulder surgery.
Hard to catch a coach’s eye when you can’t show him what you can do.
“It was hard not being on the field so I could learn the system and come into two-a-days and have a little jump on it,” Colvin said. “But things happen for a reason. I wasn’t worried about it. I just worked on my strength.”
Apparently, it has all worked out the way the Sooners needed it to.
Much of the secondary’s rebuilding revolved around Colvin being able to move from strong safety to cornerback. It wasn’t much of a transition. Colvin played there as a freshman in 2010 and played well.
After less than a week of practice the concerns are gone.
“Aaron is doing great,” the defensive coordinator said. “He is a true corner. He has tremendous cover skills and real good speed out there. We feel like he fits what we are doing.”
Then why did Colvin ever leave the spot?
Well, it’s a compliment to Colvin. The 6-foot, 180-pound junior is one of the Sooners’ best athletes. He’s capable of plugging just about any hole that could arise. He led OU in tackles with 84 last season. Stoops said there isn’t a spot in secondary Colvin couldn’t play and play well. He’s moved back to cornerback because that’s where OU needs him most.
Most of the problems that plagued OU’s defense last season were in the secondary. As a group they simply let too many receivers get behind them. In a conference like the Big 12 that has future NFL wide receivers lining up for several teams, a secondary’s weakness gets exposed quickly.
Cornerbacks, however, have to be solid for everything to sync. They are the ones who are locked up against the best receivers. They are also the ones who are regularly isolated on receivers with little to no help. They must consistently win one-on-one battles with receivers or the scoreboard starts lighting up quickly.
Mike Stoops and OU coach Bob Stoops both believe having Colvin locking onto receivers at the line of scrimmage will make the Sooners a better defense. Both have gushed about him since practice began last Friday. However, he doesn’t know why he’s received the praise.
“Personally, I don’t feel like I’ve been doing as great as I should. I really don’t. I feel like I can be a lot better. I actually told my mother yesterday I’ve gotta pick it up,” he said. “I’m out there trying to stay in front of receivers. I’m trying to use my quickness and my agility to my advantage. I’m really just trying to eliminate the receiver, whoever I’m playing. I don’t want them to have to worry about me.”
Colvin worries about himself because good defensive backs know one mistake can turn into a touchdown in a matter of seconds. That one mistake is the difference between winning and losing the games that decide championships.
The concerns from those around him have gone away.
“Rarely ever does he get a ball caught on him,” safety Tony Jefferson said of Colvin. “He definitely has some of the best ball skills on the team. It’s going to be a great season for Aaron Colvin. A lot of people sleep on Aaron Colvin because maybe he was in the wrong spot last year ... but Aaron Colvin is a great cornerback for us.”