PROVO — Nearly two decades ago, Jernaro Gilford was a star cornerback at BYU.
Now, as the Cougars’ cornerbacks coach, he has a good perspective of the position, which often has been regarded as a liability for the BYU defense over the years.
Thanks to returning sophomore starters Troy Warner and Dayan Ghanwoloku, and some solid talent, depth and experience behind them, is the cornerback spot gradually becoming a strength?
“We’re trying to get to that point. I don’t know if I can say that now,” Gilford said. “We have to prove it in the games. We’re young and talented. I’m fortunate that I have three guys who started games last year. We have some depth and some competition going on. We have about six guys who can play.”
Warner sees the cornerback position as one of the best on the defense.
“In my eyes, we are one of the strengths of the defense, and that’s how we’re going to carry ourselves this season,” he said. “We feel like we’ve gotten better from last year. We had an okay year last year. I think, this year, we’ll be even better.”
The two projected starters at the cornerback spots, Warner and Ghanwoloku (formerly Lake), provide a solid foundation.
“Both of those guys from last year to now took five steps ahead,” Gilford said.
“We put in a lot of work in the offseason,” Warner explained. “This is the time for us to show all the hard work we’ve put in and get dialed in so we’re ready for the season. We’re excited about our depth and experience. We’re holding ourselves accountable because we have a lot of depth, a lot of guys who played last year. There’s no excuses for us to take a step back. We should always be progressing. We’ll continue to push ourselves.”
Warner, the younger brother of starting linebacker Fred Warner, started nine games last season as a true freshman, recording 21 tackles and seven pass breakups.
“He’s a mature kid. His football IQ is through the roof, and his instincts are great,” Gilford said of Troy Warner. “He’s just a football player, period. It helps him understand certain route concepts, when to go inside and when to go outside.”