Senior cornerback Corey White is Eastern New Mexico University’s only fulltime returning starter on defense. (File photo)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Corey White knows a lot is expected of him this season.
After all, the senior cornerback from Lubbock is the only fulltime returning starter on defense for the Eastern New Mexico University football team.
“It puts a lot of pressure on me,” White said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys who know what they’re doing, but they haven’t had that much game experience yet.”
Although White has the outgoing personality to be a leader, he said he’s not sure cornerback is the best position for that role.
“It’s kind of hard for me to be a leader because of where I’m playing,” he said. “I’m out there alone on an island.”
ENMU coaches will try to see just what they have today when the Greyhounds conduct a controlled intrasquad scrimmage at 9 a.m. Because of Friday’s rain, coach Mark Ribaudo said the scrimmage may be moved from Greyhound Stadium to the team’s on-campus practice facility.
Ribaudo said he has confidence in White, who was in on 33 tackles — including 29 solos — and had four of the team’s 12 pass interceptions a year ago.
“Corey’s good at what he does,” Ribaudo said. “He’s not just a good athlete, he’s a good football player.”
White also returns punts and kickoffs for the Hounds. Last year against Southwestern Oklahoma, he raced 100 yards for a touchdown on the second-half kickoff.
“I enjoy that a lot, especially after running one back 100 yards,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting back in there again.”
He may also get a chance to play some wide receiver on offense, particularly with a knee injury sustained on Wednesday by All-Lone Star Conference senior Derrick Hunter.
Examined on Thursday in Amarillo, Ribaudo said the injury was not as severe as first thought and added that the Hounds hoped to get Hunter back as early as the Sept. 3 home opener against Southeastern Oklahoma.
Sophomore quarterback Michael Benton won’t be at today’s scrimmage, having returned home earlier this week due to the death of a family member. That paves the way for several others to get more time in today’s scrimmage.
White said the offense, with veterans at most positions, should do well this season.
“I really like the offense,” White said. “The coaches have opened up the playbook some. If we get the new guys to buy in, I think the offense should be pretty good.”
Although the Hounds have had only a couple of days in full pads, Ribaudo said they’re ready for today’s scrimmage. Another scrimmage is on tap Wednesday, with the season opener looming Aug. 25 against Central Arkansas in Little Rock.
“It’s early, but we’re about right on schedule,” Ribaudo said. “We’re about right where we usually are when we go full-pads.”
He said the coaches like the team’s overall level of physical play. Now they want to start to add the execution part of the equation.
“The kids are playing hard; I’d be surprised if people outhit us this year,” Ribaudo said. “But that’s just one of the essentials to winning.”