One of Texas Tech’s most important position battles is at cornerback, where the team lost three seniors who combined for 23 starts last season. Sophomore Justis Nelson, who started the last three games last season, has been a front-runner for one spot with sophomores La’Darius Newbold and Thierry Nguema being the closest thing to experienced options for the other.
Maybe true freshmen corners Tevin Madison and Jah’Shawn Johnson will contend for spots in the two-deep.
Madison received praise Tuesday for the second time recently, from defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt on this occasion.
“Tevin Madison’s playing really good football right now,” Wallerstedt said, mentioning Madison first among cornerbacks as he rattled off defensive players who had had a good first week.
At Big 12 media days in July, linebacker Sam Eguavoen said Madison impressed him during summer 7-on-7 sessions with the way he broke on passes and knocked balls out of veteran receivers’ hands.
Still, it’s a long time from the first week of practice to getting meaningful snaps in a game, let alone keeping it up until Big 12 play starts. And the Red Raiders have a lot of options.
“I think Jah’Shawn Johnson’s done a good job,” Wallerstedt said. “Tevin. La’Darius has played better than he’s played since we’ve been here. Thierry Nguema does some good stuff. Number 31 (Nelson), who finished the season with us, he’s doing some good things.
“But I wouldn’t say anybody needs to relax right now. I think all jobs are open on the perimeter at corner for us.”
Madison’s a 5-foot-10, 160-pound product of Fayette County, Alabama. He caught 49 passes for 1,053 yards and intercepted five passes last season, playing with a torn triceps.
Johnson’s a 5-10, 170-pound product of Ennis. He was credited with 114 tackles, seven interceptions, two fumble recoveries and 11 pass breakups last season.