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Igbinoghene’s transition to cornerback

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Auburn ‘very happy’ with Noah Igbinoghene’s transition to cornerback | Football

Josh Vitale | AU Writer Follow on Twitter Like on Facebook

5-6 minutes

Noah Igbinoghene isn’t the first Auburn player to switch sides of the ball under Gus Malzahn.

Rudy Ford signed as a running back in 2013 and moved to nickel. Trovon Reed played three years of wide receiver before moving to corner in 2014. Prince Tega Wanogho signed as a defensive tackle and switched to offensive tackle between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Tashawn Manning did the same thing this spring. Jason Smith moved from wide receiver to safety last fall.

Igbinoghene has as much of a chance to make an impact as any who have moved before him: Asked by reporters in Mobile last month what Auburn’s starting secondary looked like at the end of spring practice, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said it would be Jeremiah Dinson and Daniel Thomas at safety, Javaris Davis at nickel, and Jamel Dean and Igbinoghene at corner.

“Noah is obviously very fast, and historically there’s been a lot of corners in this league come in being wide receivers, running backs, quarterbacks and move over,” Steele said this spring. “The thing that’s giving him an advantage is he’s got the skillset — that’s pretty obvious — but he has the toughness. That’s something that sometimes you’re unsure about when you move a guy over. I don’t mean to say offense is different than defense, but tackling is different, and he’s been really good at that.”

When Malzahn first announced that Igbinoghene would spend some time at corner at the start of spring practice, it sounded as if it was a simple experiment. Auburn had a glut of receivers and wanted to find more ways to get the talented former four-star recruit on the field. The plan was to try Igbinoghene at on defense the first two weeks, then discuss options moving forward from there.

Igbinoghene quickly found a home. He was one of the second-team corners as soon as practice began, already ahead of holdovers John Broussard Jr., Traivon Leonard, Malcolm Askew and Jayvaughn Myers on the depth chart. Before long, he was getting first-team reps as the Tigers shifted Davis between corner and nickel.

When Auburn didn’t immediately move Igbinoghene back to wide receiver once Eli Stove and Will Hastings were lost to torn ACLs, the move began to look much less like an experiment and much more like it might be permanent.

“Very happy,” Malzahn said when asked about Igbinoghene in Montgomery last week. “We just felt like we needed to put him in a position that he could be on the field more. So that was the reason that we moved him over there in the spring. He responded very well. He's a tough guy, he's a smart guy. He caught on well. He just did a super job.”

Malzahn has left open the possibility of Igbinoghene playing offense as well as defense for the Tigers this fall. The 5-foot-11, 196-pound Hewitt-Trussville product caught six passes for 24 yards last season and totaled 1,700 all-purpose yards and 18 touchdowns on offense as a senior in high school.

Auburn also believes Igbinoghene can be one of the better kickoff return men in the SEC after averaging 23.8 yards per return on 24 attempts as a freshman.

But if this spring was any indication, Igbinoghene’s biggest impact in 2018 may come on defense. His athletic gifts will help them there as much as they do at wide receiver.

His parents, Faith and Festus, were SEC and (in the case of Faith) Olympic track standouts for their native Nigeria. Igbinoghene followed in their footsteps, winning six high school state championships between the long and triple jump. He jumps for the Tigers’ track and field team, too, so he should certainly be able to leap in front of a quarterback’s throw or battle for a ball in the air like he would as a wide receiver.

When Smith moved from receiver to safety before his senior season last fall, he provided only fifth-string depth behind Tray Matthews, Stephen Roberts, Nick Ruffin and Daniel Thomas. When Reed made that same move to corner three years earlier, he broke up four passes, intercepted three more and parlayed his success into an NFL career that is going into its fourth season.

Igbinoghene appears to be headed toward the latter, not the former.

“Noah is going to be a great corner. He’s very athletic,” Davis said on A-Day. “Right now, he’s still learning the technique and foundation of corner, but once he gets it down, he’s going to be very good.”

Josh Vitale is the Auburn beat writer for the Opelika-Auburn News. You can follow him on Twitter at @AUBlog. To reach him by email, click here.

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24 minutes ago, WarDamnEagleWDE said:

Steele thinks Noah is going to be a NFL CB. BTW. 

He has the coaches to get him there

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Wonder what's up with Askew and Broussard ? They both came in highly rated and expected to be early contributors.

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4 hours ago, WarDamnEagleWDE said:

Steele thinks Noah is going to be a NFL CB. BTW. 

That was one of the first things that came to my mind.  If he's athletic enough to play corner well, that's probably where he should be, for his sake as well as the team's.

This sounds like a good move.

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28 minutes ago, kd4au said:

Wonder what's up with Askew and Broussard ? They both came in highly rated and expected to be early contributors.

Hopefully, still competing. 

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4 hours ago, WarDamnEagleWDE said:

Steele thinks Noah is going to be a NFL CB. BTW. 

The way his mom talks, you'd think CKS is in love.

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Would be awesome for him to be transitioning so fast . Could be a thing where coach names him to get others to step game up who may have throught they had a position on lock . Pure speculation on my part . 

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11 hours ago, WarDamnEagleWDE said:

Steele thinks Noah is going to be a NFL CB. BTW. 

Wow.

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On 5/16/2018 at 1:48 PM, kd4au said:

Wonder what's up with Askew and Broussard ? They both came in highly rated and expected to be early contributors.

While there's always time for an individual to turn things around, just look at the entire roster. Every position has guys that we were excited about when they signed and have never cracked the starting lineup. Some have never seen the field during a game.

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