New Arizona cornerbacks coach Donte Williams says DaVonte Neal (19) 'is going to be a very good player for us this year.'

At some point last season Arizona’s cornerbacks lost their confidence, per Rich Rodriguez. They’re working this spring to get it back.

The man leading them now has a sterling reputation for coaching up defensive backs. Donté Williams’ former team, San Jose State, allowed the fewest passing yards per game in the nation in 2014. The Spartans allowed the second fewest last season.

Williams’ acumen is evident in the way he talks about his players. He doesn’t spew the usual clichés. He knows what each player has and what he needs to work on.

Below are Williams’ scouting reports on four of the Wildcats’ top corners. You can also see Williams in action in the video at the bottom of this post.

(on redshirt junior Dane Cruikshank)

“Athletically, he’s everything you’re looking for. Dane came from junior college. He ended up redshirting last year. So there’s still a lot of things as far as the techniques and just the awareness of playing corner. But he’s picking it up as we go. He’s doing a good job of handling it. Defensively, everything is still new – what we’re putting in, how we’re trying to do things. He’s picking it up day by day as we go.

(on redshirt senior DaVonte’ Neal)

“DaVonte’ and Dane are, athletically, what you’re looking for. One’s a little bigger; one’s a little more athletic in terms of stop and start. DaVonte’ is going to be a very good player for us this year. I’m looking forward to what he’s going to do for us on the field. He’s also progressing day to day (in) what we’re trying to do – what I’m having him try to do technique-wise, what Yates (defensive coordinator Marcel Yates) is looking for, what Coach Rod is looking for. Just day to day, still learning how to play the position.”

(on freshman Antonio Parks)

“Taking a year off from football … you could see from Practice 1 to right now how he’s getting back in shape and everything. Just taking the time off, he was a little bit behind. Now he’s trying to pick (it) up. In high school, a lot of what he did was just man to man. He was just one of those guys, you watch his film, extremely aggressive and just beat the guy up at the line of scrimmage. Right now he’s learning how to play, because there are guys out here who are bigger, faster, stronger. If you don’t know how to play the position, you can get exposed. … He’ll be fine by the time the season starts. Right now, there’s still a little rust in him. He hasn’t gotten with our strength coach. He’s just going to get better and better as time goes.”

(on senior Devin Holiday)

“Devin, mentally, is really a sharp kid. Picks things up quickly. He’s not a high-rep guy. You can tell him what you want done, and he can get the job done. In that regard, as far as smartness, awareness, he’s what you what mentally in a corner. Athletically, Devin is still growing as far as physical build. For whatever reason – he works hard, trains hard, does all the right things – he’s close to being the same size (as in high school). He’s going to play to his abilities. He knows them – angles, all that kind of stuff. He’s another guy that’s going to get on the field for us and play meaningful snaps this year.”


Michael is an award-winning journalist who has been covering sports professionally since the early '90s. He started at the Star in 2015 after spending 15 years at The Orange County Register. Michael is a graduate of Northwestern University.