By Tom Lea
The cornerback position for Wisconsin, at least over the past few seasons, has had potential that never really materialized. Too often, whether it was because of a soft cushion so quizzingly deployed or a failed attempt at press coverage, the cornerbacks got burned. While the defensive line, particularly the ends, has had great success over the past two seasons, the cornerback position has been just as inconsistent.
Fortunately, though, one of the returning parts for a position of absolute need for the Badger defense entering 2011 is probably the most consistent corner on the roster. And he's probably been that way for the majority of the time he's received consistent reps.
Not only is Antonio Fenelus one of the more physical cover corners on the roster, he's one of the more fundamentally sound ones, too. He's smart, heady and usually in a position to make a play. There aren't many times a play breaks down as a result of a farcical mishap from Fenelus. He's usually that refined.
That's why he's absolutely one of the most important players returning for the 2011 season. Knowing how consistently inconsistent Devin Smith is, and knowing how young the talent pool is behind those two veterans, Fenelus is going to have to be UW's No. 1 corner, and a shut down one at that. There is too much talent in the Big Ten for the Badgers to make another run at the roses without a bona fide shut down corner.
Fenelus can be that.
If spring camp was any sort of indication, it's obvious both Chris Ash and Charlie Partridge are hoping to become more aggressive, particularly when it comes to the back end of the defensive unit. Fenelus, who has good speed and even better technique, has said he enjoys pressing and that it suits his style. If he's able to cater to that mindset and philosophy, he will likely be in for a very good senior year.
At least that's what this defense will need from him.
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