If you've been following this series, you know that I think the world of 2003 LSU defense. It was just an awesome unit that attacked opposing offenses relentlessly. However, the defensive system does have a flaw: it requires the cornerbacks to make plays in single coverage with no safety help. The corners are the lynchpin of that defense, and if they aren't up to the task, the system can fall apart. Lucky for Saban and Muschamp, they had Corey Webster.
Most people forget he started his career as a wide receiver, even catching 9 balls as a freshman (which, as a point of refernece, is 2 less than Randle last season). And what a waste of a cornerback that would have been. Mainly out of neccesity, he switched to the defensive side of the ball as a sophomore and played in all 13 games, primarily as a nickel back, but eventually winning the regular starting job. He was a sensation right away, intercepting 7 balls including 3 against Florida. He demonstrated his knack for finding the football and making big plays. He was the team's best corner by season's end, and he'd only been playing the position for a few months. Webster was named first team All-SEC, and he only started five games at the position.
With a whole offseason to work on the position, Webster played like a man possessed in 2003. As the linebackers and safeties went on insane runs into the backfield, he was left routinely to cover the opposition's best receiver with no help whatsoever. He was rarely burnt and lesser teams decided not to even throw his way. Those that did usually regretted the error. He had another 7 picks, including four in the last four games (wins over Ole Miss, Arkansas, Georgia, and Oklahoma). He came up huge in the biggest games. His best game wasn't even during that run, it was when he blew up the Georgia offense in Tiger Stadium with nine tackles and five pass breakups to go with another INT. Webster earned another All-SEC honor, which looked nice on the mantle next to his first team All-American award.
2004 was a bit of a letdown, as Webster struggled with injuries the entire season. That said, no one threw at him. He truly did shut down a whole side of the field, as his interceptions slipped to 2, giving him 16 on his career, 2nd all-time at LSU. Quarterbacks learned to stop challenging him. However, he did get involved in the offense and even scored on a TD pass against, er, Arkansas St. He was a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award (again), All-SEC (again), and first team All-American (again). His second first team All-American made him the first LSU player to make two consecutive first team All-American teams since Wendell Davis in 1986. Webster ended an 18-year drought on two-time All-Americans for LSU. That gives him bragging rights over greats like Alan Faneca, Kevin Faulk, Josh Reed, and Kevin Mawae.
It seems like that positional switch worked out okay for him.