Texas Football: What You Need to Know About Longhorns CB Quandre Diggs
The 2012 Texas Longhorns' defense is expected to be among the best in the country, and sophomore cornerback Quandre Diggs is its most dynamic talent.
Coming off a season in which he tied a freshman school record with four interceptions and was chosen as the Big 12's Defensive Freshman of the Year, the sky truly is the limit for the physical Diggs.
Having spent the offseason exclusively working on his coverage skills, there is little reason to think Diggs will not continue his journey toward becoming the next great product of "DBU."
As promised, here is everything you need to know about this great young talent.
Ranking No. 21 overall on ESPNU's 150 list coming out of Angelton (TX) High School, Diggs was a key recruit for Texas going into last season after the departures of Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown.
Luckily for the 'Horns, they had the inside track on the small-yet-tough Diggs, courtesy of his older brother and former Longhorn standout Quentin Jammer, whom Diggs very understandably idolizes. Diggs did not let the family down in his debut season as his four interceptions and 19 passes defensed also earned him the coaches' recognition as an All-Big 12 second-teamer.
Diggs still has a lot to prove before he can be regarded in the same light as his older brother, but he definitely proved that he has the potential to be just as good, if not better.
Diggs Is a Ball Hawk
Whereas counterpart Carrington Byndom is more of the shutdown-type corner, Diggs finds his niche as the secondary's premier ball hawk.
En route to being named the conference's Defensive Freshman of the Year, Diggs tied the school's freshman record with four interceptions, was tied for third in the nation with 19 passes defensed, forced two fumbles and had four tackles for a loss. And three of those interceptions came in three of Texas' biggest wins of the season—over BYU, Texas A&M and Cal in the Holiday Bowl.
Since his days of returning kicks for the Longhorns are likely over, Diggs will have more time and energy to expend on coverage. That should mean nothing but improvement for Diggs' already impressive numbers.
He Is a Very Complete Player
What makes Diggs such a unique player is his all-around athleticism and diverse playing background, which lend themselves to a very complete skill set.
When you watch Diggs play, you notice that he is very comfortable no matter where he is on the field. He has excellent vision when he has the ball, he has no problem laying a hit on anybody with the ball, and he is not afraid to mix it up with players that are much bigger than he is. His overall understanding of the game is superb, due to the fact that Diggs played quarterback as well as defensive back in high school.
Diggs can do everything a cornerback needs to be able to do, and then more once he gets his hands on the ball, making him a flat-out game changer.
Where He Can Improve
If Quandre Diggs wants to become a dominant ball hawk in the same light as, say, Tyrann Mathieu, he must work on his hands.
Too many times last season Diggs seemed poised to make an interception but could not complete the play, most notably in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma State. It's hard to be critical of the hands belonging to a defensive player that led his team in interceptions as a freshman, but you don't ever want to leave plays like that on the field.
The thought process here is that teams are likely going to avoid throwing at Carrington Byndom this season, so Diggs is going to be tested frequently. Every interception he drops validates that decision for the other team, but if he can reel those in then the opposition is left with quite the conundrum.
What to Expect in 2012
This season, Diggs and Byndom will pair up as the best cornerback duo in the conference, and possibly the entire country.
He will probably be slightly overshadowed by Byndom's pure shutdown ability as he makes his run at the Thorpe Award, but Diggs will have no problem making his presence felt. Since he will exclusively play corner this season, Diggs will benefit greatly from being able to focus solely on his ability to play the position.
Keep an eye on his tackling. Last season Diggs had 51 tackles (33 solo), meaning not only that he does well to keep the play in front of him, but also that he is not afraid to make a tackle out on the perimeter. That trait will be especially important if the linebackers take longer than hoped to jell as a unit.
Overall, expect Diggs to once again lead this team in interceptions except with a number closer to six. Six interceptions and the remainder of contributions he will make on a weekly basis should easily earn him a spot on the All-Big 12 second team, though he could very well be a first-teamer.