If there is one position on a football field that is hardest to stock with quality players, it's probably cornerbacks.
Utah State defensive coordinator Bill Busch said the natural inclination for many young, athletic football players and their coaches to focus on the point-scoring positions is understandable, but it often leads to a problem with finding Division I quality defensive backs at the high-school level.
"I think that's right," Busch said. "We see a lot of the best cornerbacks playing receiver or quarterback because those positions often get the best athletes."
For that reason, Busch said, the best college corners often come from the other side of the field.
"When we recruit defensive backs, we look at potential to play to position," he said. "Sometimes the best cornerback is a running back."
Case in point: Aggie junior Curtis Marsh.
A starter at tailback in three games last year, Marsh was asked to change positions by new coach Gary Andersen.
"It's truly one of the most difficult skills," Andersen said.
Still, Marsh has steadily moved up the depth chart since making the position change in the spring. When the Aggies face No. 19 Utah Thursday night, Marsh will be starting at the corner opposite veteran Kejon Murphy.
"Curtis is a guy who we saw had a lot of skill, and we needed to find a way to get him on the field," Andersen said. "We asked him to make the change, and he never hesitated."
The 6-foot-1, 193-pounder will be asked to slow down what has been a strength for Utah in recent seasons. The Ute receivers will certainly try to test Marsh as he plays his first game on defense since he was at Royal High in Simi Valley, Calif.
Murphy, on the other hand, is a veteran at the position and a player Andersen said has a chance to be a game-changer.14 comments on this story
"Our ability to play man coverage has been impressive," Andersen said of his observations through fall camp, but noted the USU corners have been covering USU receivers and are getting more familiar with the routes and plays as the days go on. How the Aggie DBs cover Utah receivers is a big concern.
"That's one of my biggest questions as a coach: How good are we?" Andersen said.
Backing up Murphy and Marsh will be sophomore Chris Harris and junior Chris Randle. Depth in the defensive secondary, Andersen said, is a concern at USU.
"We're going to have a great measuring stick to see how we match up," Andersen said of the Utes. "We'll know where we stand real quick."