For years, Will Muschamp has fought the idea that he doesn’t use small cornerbacks, and Cody Riggs has rebelled against the notion that he has to be big to play well.
Listed at 5-foot-9 and 166 pounds, Riggs is part of a three-man competition with junior Jeremy Brown and senior Moses Jenkins for the starting cornerback spot opposite Janoris Jenkins, and Muschamp isn’t letting the sophomore’s slight frame keep him out of the picture.
“Everyone gets caught up in size, height and things, and I’ve been labeled as a guy that loves height by people that recruit against us,” Muschamp said Tuesday. “It’s not about how tall you are. It’s about if you make plays or not.
“Sure, we’d love to have a 6-3 corner, but is that realistic? How many of those are out there? I don’t see many of them. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with playmaking ability, and Cody’s been very productive throughout the spring. I’m very pleased with where he is.”
Muschamp pointed to two of his former players, Jerraud Powers and Jonathan Wilhite, as examples of his willingness to start smaller defensive backs.
Both are listed about an inch-and-a-half taller than Muschamp remembered them, but Powers played under Muschamp at Auburn and started 10 games for the Indianapolis Colts last year.
The 5-foot-11 Wilhite, meanwhile, is currently on the New England Patriots roster.
Hoping to add another success story to Muschamp’s list, Riggs has sought guidance from Jenkins, who is advising the cornerbacks while recovering from shoulder surgery.
“It’s very heated,” Riggs said. “We’re all working together for who’s the other starter opposite Janoris, but we’re all just working hard for that spot.”
HARRISON MOVING TO CENTER: Jonotthan Harrison hadn’t played center since his freshman year of high school, so it’s easy to understand why the sophomore — still listed as a guard on Florida’s roster — was a little surprised when his coaches asked him to switch positions without providing a reason.
Harrison, who started at guard in the Outback Bowl, has been playing center for UF in spring practice. Despite the abrupt nature of the change, he said he is enjoying it.
“I was shocked, but I was excited at the same time,” Harrison said. “I heard bits and pieces about me playing center before, and I’m just excited that it’s finally happening.”
The position requires more responsibility, vocal leadership and play recognition than guard, all of which Harrison is still acclimating to, so he sought the advice of former Gator Mike Pouncey for help adjusting to his new role.
“He said you just really have to go hard, study and get in your playbook,” Harrison said.