(Editor's Note: With the offseason program in the rearview mirror, it's time to look ahead. As part of the preparation for training camp, this series will introduce 25 key players who are new to the Cowboys' roster, rookies and veterans alike. The series continues today with safety Israel Mukuamu.)
How he got here: Mukuamu played three years at South Carolina where he was a tall cornerback with enviable range. In fact, at 6'4, he and Nahshon Wright, who the Cowboys drafted with the No. 99 pick, were listed as the two tallest cornerbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft. A groin injury in 2020 limited Mukuamu to just five games his junior year. Only during his sophomore season did he play double digit games, and he recorded four interceptions, nine pass deflections and a defensive touchdown. In total, he recorded seven interceptions in his collegiate career. The Cowboys drafted Mukuamu with the 227th pick in the sixth round, and he signed a four-year contract.
What's next: Dan Quinn and the Cowboys made it clear almost immediately after drafting Mukuamu that they plan to convert him from cornerback to safety. At 6'4 and 205 pounds, he has a lot of size and strength for a safety. He showed great reflexes and reaction speed at South Carolina, and the Cowboys' defense has been starved for interceptions from the safety position the past handful of years. It's hard to imagine a sixth-round pick switching positions and then earning a starting job his rookie year, but Domantae Kazee is coming off a serious injury and Donovan Wilson hasn't proven he's a guaranteed starter, so there will be an opportunity to impress at training camp. In all likelihood, the Cowboys will just try to develop Mukuamu at the safety position and hope that at some point in the future he'll be ready to contribute.
Bet you didn't know: In Mukuamu's sophomore year, South Carolina faced off against a heavily favored Georgia team that tried to stay away from USC cornerback Jaycee Horn, who many believed would become the Cowboys 2021 first round pick. But picking on Mukuamu didn't work too well as he recorded three interceptions, 11 tackles and brought home a 53-yard touchdown.
Quotable: "Everything seemed to be a positive movement with this guy. His hips were extremely fluid and he had great ball skills. You know the coaches during those drills, they like to fire it and this guy was catching everything. He looked extremely fluid. When they were doing the mirror, the receiver drills as a press coverage technique, he was extremely comfortable like he was out there before. That has to come from his cornerback background at South Carolina." - Former Cowboys safety Barry Church