TCU football preview: Horned Frogs’ cornerbacks led by one of the nation’s best

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TCU may have had the best cornerback duo in the country in 2022.

The starters, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and Josh Newton, were among the nation’s elite and were voted first team All-Big 12. Hodges-Tomlinson also won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.

However, the Horned Frogs didn’t have much depth behind the two stars which would put the defense in a bind whenever they needed a rest. Hodges-Tomlinson is off to the NFL, but Newton returns and has earned some preseason All-American honors by multiple publications.

Behind him, Sonny Dykes brought in a host of transfers and recruits in the hopes of bolstering the depth behind Newton. Replacing Hodges-Tomlinson will be difficult, but TCU will have a number of options.

The Star-Telegram continues its TCU football preview with a look at the cornerbacks:

Cornerback preview

Players listed on the roster: Josh Newton, Channing Canada, Mason White, Jaionte McMillan, Ish Burdine, Ronald Lewis, Avery Helm, Vernon Glover

Production from 2022: Newton had 12 pass breakups and three interceptions including a pick six against Iowa State. Newton was first team all-conference and was voted to the preseason all-conference team. McMillan had an interception against Tarleton and 10 tackles, most coming on special teams.

Burdine had three tackles in the opening two games before suffering a season-ending injury. Helm started the first four games at Florida and appeared in 10 overall. Lewis redshirted in 2022 due to injury.

Projected starters: Josh Newton, Avery Helm

Next up: Channing Canada, Mason White

Breakdown: Any time you have a potential All-American at a position it makes life easier and that’s what Newton will do for the defense in 2023. A true shutdown corner, Newton excelled at man coverage and does a good job of contesting catches. He was tested a lot with teams avoiding Hodges-Tomlinson, but held his own more than not. Now teams will be avoiding him.

Helm started nine games for Florida in 2021 and four more in 2022. Helm seems like a good pick to start alongside Newton as he more than held his own as a starter in the SEC. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Helm has great length and speed to match. The junior also had a good spring and spent most of it as the top corner since Newton was sidelined.

Canada and White were two junior college pickups for TCU and were rated among the best in the country. Canada was the No. 1 JUCO cornerback and No. 3 prospect overall. He could be the one that pushes Helm for the opposing spot in fall camp and is ready to contribute from a physical standpoint. White picked off five passes and six pass breakups at the JUCO ranks.

McMillan will continue to be a key player on special teams and could push to crack the two-deep. Burdine was limited in the spring, but there’s hope the former four-star recruit will also be a contributor in the room. Glover was the lone freshman to join the room and was a three-star recruit from Dickinson, Texas.

Storyline to watch at fall camp: The battle between Helm, White and Canada for the starting spot beside Newton

Biggest question: TCU may have more depth at the position, but will TCU’s corners remain as effective in pass coverage?

Best case scenario: Newton has another strong year and contends for an All-American spot while Helm shows why he was a starter in the SEC. TCU’s pass coverage remains in good standing with more depth from Canada and White.

Worst case scenario: Newton has a good year with teams avoiding him, but the second starting corner ends up becoming a revolving door due to ineffectiveness as Helm, White and Canada all get a crack at starting with mixed reviews.