Today we continue our series here on CougarsDen taking a look at the Key Cougars for upcoming season.
We will not be looking at best prospects for the NFL or even best players on the team as far as talent level goes. We simply will look at key players that will play important roles in a successful 2011 season for the Cougars.
This is our opinion and is meant to be such and to stir conversation in the time left before camp opens early in August.
Today we continue the series with a look at junior cornerback D.J. Hayden.
The Cougars had to fight hard to hold onto Hayden as signing day approached. Some top teams from across the country came after him with the likes of Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Ole Miss trying to lure him away from his verbal commitment.
In the end it was the relationship that the staff had built with Hayden that kept him from jumping ship. That relationship will likely translate into a huge step forward on the defensive side of the ball this fall.
Hayden has developed his game a lot since coming out of high school. He is the type of cornerback that you can put on the field and not worry about. That's just the type the Cougars have been needing.
After he arrived on campus in December he turned a lot heads during spring practice. Some on the staff commented that he had been making plays that hadn't been made in quite a while on Cullen Blvd.
With a shut-down corner like Hayden on the field it allows the defense more opportunity to bring different blitz packages instead of keeping guys home to help out in coverage.
The translation is that Hayden and teammate Chevy Bennett's ability to hold their own at the cornerback position will ultimately make the defense better by itself. Throw in the improved safety play and deeper linebackers and the translation should be a good one this fall.