South Florida cornberback Kayvon Webster has such high-regard for Champ Bailey's press coverage skills he will often proclaim “Champ has arrived at practice,” when he's asked to jam a receiver at the line.
Renowned for his physical prowess and ability to press receivers, Webster is one of the most intense, aggressive corners in the Big East. It's one reason why Webster earned All-Big East second team honors last season. Despite the accolades Webster remains humble, but hungry.
“I haven't done anything yet,” Webster said.
To that end, Webster worked arduously with Dallas Cowboys and former USF cornerback Mike Jenkins throughout the summer. Jenkins provided helpful tips on reading a quarterback's drop steps, focusing on the direction of a quarterback's shoulders and anticipating a reciever's break.
Webster said the pointers will help him close quicker on the ball. The 5-foot-11, 198 pound senior has been an integral part of the defense since arriving on campus in 2009. As a true freshman, Webster recorded 30 tackles and an interception in six starts. In 2011, Webster finished with two interceptions and seven pass break-ups. In Webster's first two seasons he had just two break-ups combined.
Early in his career, Webster had the luxury of playing alongside former Bulls defensive backs Mistral Raymond and Quenton Washington. Both eventually moved on to the NFL. Webster now inherits the role of the leader of the secondary. USF will have three prominent newcomers in the secondary in junior college transfers Josh Brown and Fidel Montgomery, as well as heralded freshman Chris Bivins Jr. The freshman from Gainesville, Fla., missed spring practice with a knee injury.
“They're buying into the system and are ready to work,” Webster said. “I feel like they're already part of the family.”
Montgomery also plays with an aggressive mindset. The 6-foot, 187-pound junior recorded 177 tackles over the past two seasons at Southwest Mississippi Junior College.
“He used to play safety, he can tackle with the best of them,” Webster said. “I don't have to question what he's doing back there at all.”
Brown's impressive ball skills could help a secondary that had just 12 interceptions (fifth in the Big East) last season. The Bulls also need tighter defense against the league's elite teams. When facing three of the top quarterbacks in the Big East last season -- Geno Smith, Zach Collaros and Teddy Bridgewater -- South Florida allowed an average of 33.6 points per game.
“He's got great speed and great hips,” Webster said. “When he focuses on the ball he has a great chance at making a play on it.”
Beside Bailey, Webster also tries to emulate Darrelle Revis and Janoris Jenkins. Though the Rams' rookie doesn't possess top-end 4.3 speed Jenkins still exudes confidence on the field at all times, Webster said. Like Revis, Webster eventually hopes to put fear in receivers with suffocating coverage.
Though Webster places team goals ahead of individual pursuits, he could become the conference's top NFL draft prospect at corner with a spectacular season. In order to get there, Jenkins, the former USF corner, has implored Webster to remain self-assured when playing on an island.
“He told me just to believe in myself and play with confidence,” Webster said.
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