Oklahoma State football: With Rodarius Williams moving on, Jarrick Bernard-Converse steps into spotlight role
STILLWATER — When an injury kept Oklahoma State cornerback Rodarius Williams out of the Baylor game on Dec. 12, Williams ended a run of 48 consecutive starts, by far the longest streak on the team.
Next in line? Jarrick Bernard-Converse, who started his 32nd straight game that day.
And when Williams opted out of the bowl game, he left open the spot of OSU’s top cornerback.
Next in line? Bernard-Converse again.
When the 21st-ranked Cowboys face No. 18 Miami at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., Bernard-Converse will be in a high-leverage situation — not that it’s anything new to him.
Bernard-Converse arrived in 2018 and immediately became a starter at the safety position responsible for covering the opponent’s slot receiver. He started there for two years, and last spring, moved to cornerback.
As Williams emerged as a lockdown cornerback, gaining momentum as an NFL prospect, Bernard-Converse went about his business on the opposite side of the field.
Because Williams became so feared by opponents, Bernard-Converse saw more action coming his way.
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According to Pro Football Focus analytics, Bernard-Converse’s receiver was targeted 34 times this season, but he allowed only 15 receptions for 255 yards with six pass breakups. He had his hiccups, too, giving up a couple big plays against Texas Tech and TCU. But for the most part, he has been a reliable cornerback.
That will need to continue against a big-play Miami offense led by quarterback D’Eriq King.
“I’ve been playing a lot this year alongside Rodarius,” Bernard-Converse said. “I feel like the workload will increase a little bit more, but I don’t feel like things will change much.”
Williams often found himself guarding the opponent’s best receiver, but that job will fall to Bernard-Converse now.
“You go out there playing the best each week, so obviously you look forward to it,” he said. “It’s just another opportunity to showcase my talents.”
And of course, with Williams heading to the NFL, Bernard-Converse will be in this same spot when next season rolls around. So the bowl game is just a warmup for what’s ahead.
“It’s another game for me to develop and get better,” he said. “I look at it as a good opportunity for me to go out against a good Miami team, because they have good receivers, good offense, good quarterback, good schemes. So I feel like it’s a really good opportunity for me to develop and get ready for next year.”
Scott Wright covers OSU athletics, especially football. You can send your story ideas to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ScottWrightOK. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.