Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch commended Smith, the nickel, and safeties Bryson Shaw, Max Williams and Calen Bullock for their performance against Stanford, but the corner position is in flux.
Sophomore Domani Jackson soon could be battling Christian Roland-Wallace for a starting spot. The Arizona transfer was working as the No. 2 nickel during camp after Jackson grabbed the starting cornerback spot, but Roland-Wallace seems to be moving into a larger role. He played the most snaps of any defensive player against Stanford, according to Pro Football Focus, and spelled Jackson at cornerback.
The unforgiving position has magnified the pressure on Jackson as he returns from a knee injury suffered during his senior year at Mater Dei. The former five-star prospect’s untapped potential comes in contrast to the veteran Roland-Wallace, who led Arizona in tackles last season while starting all 12 games at cornerback.
Although his experience could give him an advantage, the redshirt senior said he has no problems rotating with Jackson and fellow cornerback Ceyair Wright.
“I trust in the staff,” Roland-Wallace said. “I trust in Coach Riley, Coach Grinch, Coach Donte [Williams]. However it happens to play out, I am completely fine with it. I know they’re doing what’s best for the team.”