Top-Five Penn State Cornerbacks of the 2010s

By Matthew Filipovits on January 16, 2020 at 8:00 am
Amani Oruwariye finished atop our Roar Lions Roar voting for Penn State cornerback of the decade, followed by Grant Haley, John Reid, Jordan Lucas, and Trevor Williams.
Roar Lions Roar

With the 2010s in the rearview mirror, we're ranking the top-five players at each position of the decade, as voted on by the Roar Lions Roar staff. All of this will lead up to the RLR Team of the Decade. We will only be taking into account seasons from 2010-2019, so players like Evan Royster and Devon Still have solely been judged on their seasons during that time frame.

The Nittany Lion secondary has taken its share of lumps over the past decade, but it's also produced some very talented football players. Here are our top-five of the decade.

Honorable mention - Christian Campbell

  • 2014-2017
  • Career Statistics: 104 tackles, 24 passes defended, 3 interceptions

A four-year contributor, Campbell didn't become a full-time starter until his senior year, leading the team with 12 pass breakups. At 6'1, he was a rangy corner who wasn't afraid to come up and make plays against the run. His sure tackling and hard-hitting made him a feared presence in the secondary.

No. 5 - Trevor Williams

  • 2012-2015
  • Career Statistics: 84 tackles, 16 passes defended, 5 interceptions

Williams began his career as a wide receiver, registering 10 catches for 97 yards as a true freshman before switching over to the defensive backfield. He quickly developed into a rock-solid cornerback, starting a few games the very next year. It was clear his knowledge of the receiver position helped him in pass coverage. He became a much better tackler as his career progressed, registering 3.5 tackles for loss his senior season. He signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Willaims played very well with San Diego before being waived after suffering an injury in September of 2019. He was recently signed to a reserve/future contract by the Eagles.

No. 4 - Jordan Lucas

  • 2013-2015
  • Career Statistics: 181 tackles, 25 passes defended, 3 interceptions

The first player to commit to Penn State after the sanctions, Lucas was a two-time All-Conference honoree as a cornerback, before switching to safety ahead of his senior season. As a corner, Lucas used his fantastic instincts and ball skills to shut down opposing receivers. At his best, he made some of the most fearless quarterbacks think twice about throwing his way. Also a solid tackler, he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He was later traded to the Chiefs, where he remains after signing a one-year deal with Kansas City ahead of the 2019 season.

No. 3 - John Reid

  • 2015-2019
  • Career Statistics: 126 tackles, 37 passes defended, 7 interceptions

Reid was an instant impact player for the Nittany Lions, appearing in all 13 games as a true freshman. He started every game during the 2016 season, earning honoring All-Big Ten honors for his performance. His career was put on hold for a season after he suffered a knee injury during practice the following spring and after some early struggles in his return, found his footing again. He registered at least 10 passes defended in three of his four seasons of action. He has an excellent chance at being drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft if he performs well in testing.

no. 2 - grant Haley

  • 2014-2017
  • Career Statistics: 139 tackles, 28 passes defended, 5 interceptions

Haley will be most remembered for a certain special teams play, but he was a pretty damn good corner. Though a bit undersized, Haley played a physical brand of football and was more than willing to come up and stop the run. A very opportunistic player, he always seemed to make a play when Penn State needed it most. He was also incredibly versatile, playing both on the outside and in the slot. He's proven his worth since joining the Giants as an undrafted free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He was one of the top-ranked rookie cornerbacks in 2018 and is one of the few bright spots on New York's defense.

No. 1 - Amani Oruwariye

  • 2014-2018
  • Career Statistics: 107 tackles, 30 passes defended, 8 interceptions

Amani Oruwariye earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2017, despite not starting a single game for the Nittany Lions. He thrived as Penn State's third corner, leading the team in interceptions that season. He didn't miss a beat when he shifted into the starting lineup, earning first-team All-Conference honors. He became a much more willing tackler during his senior season, with more than half of his career solo tackles coming during that campaign. He was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Be sure to check out the rest of the series:

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