Preseason position reviews: Cornerback

Only Arizona, UCLA and Washington welcome back both starting cornerbacks, but only Utah and Colorado lost both starters.

So most teams are at least half-way there at cornerback heading into fall camp.

How do things stack up? Read on.

Great shape

Arizona: It's not just that the Wildcats welcome back four of the five names from their 2010 depth chart, including both starters. In fact, Robert Golden is moving back to safety. It's that Trevin Wade, Jonathan McKnight and Shaquille Richardson are an outstanding trio on team that is extremely well-coached -- Mike Stoops' specialty -- in the secondary. Of course, if the Wildcats struggle to rush the passer after the departure of D-ends Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore, their CBs could end up looking ordinary.

Good shape

Oregon: We're assuming Cliff Harris gets his act together -- he's suspended for the LSU game. If so, he's one of the best cover corners in the country. The experienced Anthony Gildon steps in for Talmadge Jackson, while redshirt freshmen Terrance Mitchell and Troy Hill turned in strong springs.

California: Steve Williams is back and Marc Anthony saw plenty of action in 2010. They are a good combo. Josh Hill is a veteran backup, and redshirt freshman Adrian Lee is talented.

Washington: The Huskies have both starters back in Desmond Trufant and Quintin Richardson. And here's a "did you know" (I didn't): Guess which team tied Oregon and Cal for giving up the fewest TD passes in the Pac-10 last year? Not completely sold on the depth, though.

Stanford: The Cardinal lose the underrated Richard Sherman, but Johnson Bademosi is back. Sophomore Barry Browning will step in for Sherman. He started three games as a true freshman. Depth is questionable. Still, Stanford ranked second in the conference in pass efficiency defense last season. It gets the benefit of the doubt.

UCLA: Juniors Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price are both back. Both look the part. Both are taller than 6-feet. Yet both were inconsistent last season. They have the potential to be a strong combination, but that hasn't happened yet. Depth is a bit of an issue.

USC: Sophomore Nickell Robey turned it on late last season and had a great spring. He's a potential All-Conference guy. There's an "or" on the depth chart between Tony Burnett and Torin Harris on the other side. You'd think the Trojans have talent here, based on their typically strong recruiting classes. But you'd also think a secondary under Monte "Tampa-2" Kiffin wouldn't give up 30 -- 30! -- touchdown passes. That, folks, is five more than Washington State.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils took a major hit when unanimous first-team All-Pac-10 selection Omar Bolden went down with a knee injury in spring practices. Deveron Carr and Osahon Irabor are the projected starters, but Carr is coming back from a shoulder injury and Irabor needs to hold off redshirt freshman Devan Spann. It's possible that Alden Darby also could be in the mix, though he's listed as a safety. There's potential here, but also a lack of experience that engenders plenty of questions.

Oregon State: The Beavers lose James Dockery, who was honorable mention All-Pac-10, but Brandon Hardin is back. Hardin is the biggest cornerback in the conference, and sometimes played that way, which isn't always a compliment. Hopes are high for Jordan Poyer, a junior. Rashaad Reynolds and Sean Martin provide solid depth. It's worrisome that the Beavers ranked ninth in pass efficiency defense in the conference last season.

We'll see

Utah: The Utes lost both starting cornerbacks, and they ranked 88th in the nation in pass efficiency defense last season. Conroy Black has experience and good speed, but not as good as Ryan Lacy, who's tied for fastest on the team with receiver Reggie Dunn. Reggie Topps and Wykie Freeman provide depth. The Utes' season might turn on how things go here.

Washington State: Nolan Washington is back, Aire Justin is not. Daniel Simmons has experience, but Damante Horton topped the depth chart at the end of spring. The depth is inexperienced and the Cougars ranked 110th in the nation in pass efficiency defense last season.

Colorado: The Buffaloes ranked 112th in the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2010, surrendering 27 touchdown passes and a stunning 68 percent completion rate. And they did that poorly with two NFL draft choices playing corner, in Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown. There were more than a few observers of Buffs spring practices who are worried about this position. Parker Orms, who seems to be more of a natural safety, was hurt last season (knee) and missed spring practices but he tops the depth chart at one corner anyway, while Arthur Jaffee is No. 1 on the right side. This is a decided "we'll see."