Fifth-year senior Cornelius Douglas, the reigning Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week, has been a key player in the Tech defense's ongoing renaissance.
That's saying something about Douglas' ability, considering it was just last season that he was lining up on the opposite side of the ball as a wide receiver.
A two-interception showing against Iowa State last week, however, may have been Douglas' way of letting opponents know where his real comfort zone is.
"I mean, Tech was the first time I played receiver," Douglas said. "So, most of my college recruiting, I was a corner back, but I mean, it's just I would say instinct."
Douglas, a Lawton, Okla., native, displayed a diverse set of skills in high school, making appearances at quarterback, defensive back and kick returner.
Tech coach Tommy Tuberville can attest to Douglas' versatility, saying Monday the cornerback's presence has been sorely missed on special teams, where Douglas was a regular before making the move to full-time defensive back this year.
"The thing that we probably hurt ourselves with is we moved him over," Tuberville said. "He was probably getting 20, 25 snaps at wide receiver, and we put him at corner, and he's going to get 40 to 50. We had to take him off special teams. He was one of
our special teams guys. I'd like to move him back."
At 5-foot-9, 198 pounds, Douglas has accounted for seven total tackles, one tackle for loss, two interceptions and two passed defended this season as an integral part of the nation's No. 1 total defense (167.5 yards per game) and No. 1 passing defense,
one that has limited opposing quarterbacks to a 47.6 completion percentage.
"I think this defense has helped him because we haven't had to play a lot of man (coverage)," Tuberville said. "(Douglas) can learn and play zone. But he's becoming a lot better man-coverage guy."
With No. 17 Oklahoma coming to Lubbock this weekend, Douglas is presented with his toughest task as a defensive back to date.
Douglas, coincidently, had some of his best games as a receiver against the Sooners, racking up a career-high six receptions against Oklahoma on two different occasions.
His level of play against Oklahoma, coupled with the fact that the Sooners did not recruit Douglas coming out of high school despite family ties to the university, could bode well for the Red Raiders come Saturday.
Douglas' uncle, John, played baseball at Oklahoma, and mother, Debra Martin, graduated from the university — Cornelius, though, insists that whatever grudge he may have had against Oklahoma is long gone.
A Tech win is all he is focused on now.
"I'm kind of over that," Douglas said. "That was freshman year they didn't recruit me.
"It's just a business trip now; I've got to get the W."
By Jose Rodriguez — Special to the Star-Telegram