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State of the Roster: Cornerback

Checking into the corners for the 2016 season

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt is going to have a new-look at the corner position. Gone will be four-year starter, Lafayette Pitts. However, a very talented group of freshmen will bolster the ranks. Avonte Maddox is back and will lead an inexperienced cornerback position, but one that is not short on talent.

Projected Starters

-- Avonte Maddox 5'9" 175 Junior.  2015 Stats - 75 Tackles, 3 Interceptions

-- Damar Hamlin 6'1" 185 Freshman.  2015 Stats - N/A

Avonte Maddox returns for his junior season after starting all 13 games in 2015.  Dating back to his freshman season, he has started 18 consecutive games. Maddox is an undersized, yet hard-hitting corner from Detroit, Michigan. Maddox has pretty good speed, and factors into the return game.  Maddox is strong in run support and is not shy about making tackles. His pass coverage was off and on last season. About mid-year, teams started to really go after him and he did have his struggles.  Another year of experience and coaching should help going into this season, as Maddox will likely draw the opponents' top receiver quite a bit.

I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb predicting Hamlin will start this season. It may not happen in week one, but he's going to play this season. Pitt brought in a ton of athletic defensive backs in the 2016 recruiting class, and sorting all positions and playing time may not be easy.  Hamlin, though, was the highest rated of the bunch. He was a highly coveted player from Pittsburgh Central Catholic that chose to stay home. He could end up at safety or corner, but I think he may be needed more at corner, at least this season.

Top Reserves

-- Ryan Lewis 6'0" 200 Senior / 2015 Stats - 6 Tackles, 1 Blocked Punt

-- Malik Henderson 6'0" 185 Freshman / 2015 Stats -  N/A

Ryan Lewis is a special teams veteran that may see more time at corner this season. Lewis is a 6'0" senior out of Seattle, Washington. He's a little bulkier than most corners at the college level. Lewis initially was a safety, but made to move to corner last year to help with the depth here.

Malik Henderson took a redshirt last season, and should be primed for playing time in 2016. Henderson was a three-star recruit out of Floridia initially, and has the athleticism to be a good corner at the college level. There will be quite a competition here for reps.

The Rest

-- Phillipie Motley 5'10" 175 Sophomore / 2015 Stats - 4 tackles

-- Dane Jackson 6'0" 180 Freshman / 2015 Stats - N/A

-- Therran Coleman 6'0" 190 Freshman / 2015 Stats - N/A

Phillipie Motley is a sophomore reserve that received some playing time last season. He appeared in all 13 games, mostly in a special teams role. He will be in a competition for playing time with the other unproven corners on the depth chart.

Dane Jackson was redshirted last season, but he has some promise in his career moving forward. Jackson is a tremendous athlete that was prolific in high school. The staff seems to be high on him, and he will be in the thick of the race for playing time.

Therran Coleman is a true freshman that has a lot of promise. The Pittsburgh City League product was a pretty important recruit in last year's class, and many think he could be a really good player at the college level. He may need some polish, but he's not too far behind Damar Hamlin in terms of true freshmen getting on the field. Coleman is a physical player that seems to profile very well in Pat Narduzzi's defense.