For the 2017 season, which school can call itself Defensive Back U?
I never liked Al Davis and his Raiders all that much, but ‘just win, baby’ kind of works for me and the monikers like DBU are really unnecessary and it changes all the time, anyway.
For the 2017 season, these are my best Defensive Backfields:
1. Florida State: Derwin James is back and right now I consider him the best player in college football. He’s the number one Safety and after missing most of the 2016 season due to injury, James is back and with a vengeance. In 2015, James was a true freshman and one of the team leaders on defense and just a big play waiting to happen. He was lost for the season in the Louisville beating they took. James will no doubt declare for the NFL Draft after this season.
Back for his senior season is Strong Safety Trey Marshall. Last season, Marshall was one of the team’s leading tacklers and he’s built like a Linebacker. Marshall’s back up is AJ Westbrook and he saw plenty of playing time last season and was one of the team’s top tacklers as well. Former Wide Receiver Ermon Lane backs up Derwin James.
Tarvarus McFadden is back at Cornerback and he led the nation in Interceptions last year with 8. Kyle Myers is the only new starter, but he played enough to make 17 tackles last season, so he’s not completely green. Florida State is one of the best teams in the nation and they will be tested early and often with both Alabama in their first game and by Miami later. Kyle Myers will have to prove himself over and over as the opponents try to stay away from McFadden.
McFadden was in his first season as a starter last year and at 6-2, 200 he will probably be a 1st round pick after leaving early after this season. James is the top Safety in the nation and McFadden is probably the best Cornerback.
2. Stanford: Strength of the team last season was probably their secondary even with top pick Solomon Thomas in the Defensive Line. One of the Cardinal advantages is Defensive Back coach Duane Akina. The former Texas coach has been considered the top Defensive Back coach in the country by some and he proved himself with the Longhorns for years. Starting at Cornerback, the Cardinal is strong with returning starters Alijah Holder and Quenton Meeks. Holder only was able to play 4 games last season because he was hurt and lost for the season. But, he’s a gamer and the NFL will be very interested because of his size at 6-2, 185. Tall Corners are the new big thing to fight tall receivers. Meeks also was injured, but he got 11 games in and he is a similar size to Holder at 6-2, 190. Meeks is a big play guy with 2 Touchdowns on Interception returns. Holder and Meeks could be the best Cornerback combination in the country.
At Safety, they lost what seemed like a 9 year starter in Dallas Lloyd. Big loss, but Justin Reid is back at Strong Safety and at Free Safety Brandon Simmons is back for his senior season. Although, Simmons has not played a lot, he still has some experience. Reid is one of the team’s top tacklers from last season. They have quality depth with guys like Alameen Murphy, Ben Edwards and Frank Buncum. Stanford will be strong on defense again and even without Christian McCaffrey, they will be a force again in the Pac 12.
3. Alabama: It’s just like almost every other position, the Tide is the Tide and they always have talent and this year will be no exception. Write them off at your own peril. Ronnie Harrison returns at Free Safety and Anthony Averett at one Cornerback. Minkah Fitzpatrick moved to Strong Safety and Trevon Diggs moved into the starting role at the other Cornerback position. Tony Brown is their Star back, or their Nickel, and he has a load of experience. Brown also backs up at Corner and can play there if needed. Depth is never an issue for Saban and Alabama with Shyheim Carter, Nigel Knott and Laurence Jones their next guys to take the field if needed. I shouldn’t need to tell anyone that these guys were highly recruited and talented and most of them can lay the wood.
Sit and watch as Alabama takes another SEC championship and another playoff spot and contends for yet another championship.
4. Ohio State: The Buckeyes keep losing starters to the 1st round of the NFL Draft, but they keep replacing them with about equal talents. Losing Malik Hooker was a huge blow, but the Buckeyes return his sidekick Damon Webb. A senior from Detroit, Webb has been consistent and he was 5th on the team in total tackles last season. Webb only had one Interception a year ago, but it was very Hooker like and he returned it 36 yards for a Touchdown. The other Safety will be another senior, so they have to go through the same thing next season. Erick Smith’s only problem was he was behind Jordan Fuller, Brendon White, Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Wint. All of these guys can and probably will be stars in Columbus before they are done and White is the son of former Buckeye great William White.
Hooker last season. He has experience and some talent. The Buckeyes are deep, as usual, at Safety with younger guys like
At Cornerback, Denzel Ward returns on one side. The other side should be either Damon Arnette, or former Alabama 5 star recruit Kendall Sheffield. Arnette is listed as the starter, but Sheffield is super talented and very fast. Also with the Buckeyes are the nation’s top Corner recruit from Florida, Shaun Wade and the nation’s top Safety recruit from Texas, Jeffrey Okudah. The Buckeyes quickly moved the early enrollee Okudah to Cornerback and he has prospered there. They won’t redshirt or gather splinters in their backsides, they will play as true freshmen. There’s more, with freshmen Marcus Williamson and Amir Riep. Buckeye recruiting has been off the charts in recent seasons.
5. Virginia Tech: The Hokies will always be solid as long as they have good coaching and their Defensive Coordinator, Bud Foster, is among the best there ever was. The Hokies lost starter Chuck Clark at Safety, but return a lot of other talent. At Cornerback, they return 2 seniors in Greg Stroman and Brandon Facyson. Stroman is also a punt and kick return man, and he picked off 3 passes a season ago. Facyson is 6-2, 200 which is the highly coveted size these days. Adonis Alexander plays all the time as well and he’s 6-3, 195 and very productive. Jovonn Quillen backs up Facyson and he has not played a lot. Having the experienced and talented Stroman, Alexander and Facyson means a lot.
Clark was one of their top tacklers at Safety, but Terrell Edmunds of the Edmunds brothers fame is one of the best players in America. His brother, Tremaine, is probably the very best Linebacker in the nation this season. Terrell Edmunds has Linebacker size and Defensive Back speed while being one of the top tacklers on the team and picking off 4 passes a year ago. The Edmund brothers made a good portion of Hokie tackles a year ago. The Brothers Edmunds
At the other Safety position should be sophomore Reggie Floyd who has played very little. If Bud Foster and company believe in him, then we probably all should. You can generally count on the Hokies fielding a good to great defense and with new coach Justin Fuente running the show after what seemed like a 100 years under Frank Beamer, things should be great in beautiful Blacksburg, Virginia.
6. Clemson: The Tigers have some losses to replace, but so does about everyone else and they have developed into a machine under Dabo Swinney. Maybe in the future, Dabo will be the man known for eliminating the word Clemsoning from our vocabulary. He has done so much for this program nationally. They have become a long arm across the nation in recruiting. Even with losses, the Tigers
seem to just reload in recent seasons.
At Cornerback, the Tigers will have senior Ryan Carter and sophomore Trayvon Mullen. Carter is a returning starter and Mullen was a freshman a year ago, but he played a lot. Senior Marcus Edmond will be fighting for playing time as will Mark Fields. Mullen and Fields are still in a battle for the starting spot, actually. Fields played about as much as Mullen last season.
Safety Van Smith returns and he was one of the team’s top tacklers last season. Smith also had 2 Interceptions.
Tanner Muse is supposed to start at the other Safety position. Seniors Marcus Edmond and Korrin Wiggins provide depth. Without Deshaun Watson this season, the Tigers could drop, but don’t count on it, or the defense being less than it has been.
7. Georgia: The Bulldogs return 14 out of 15 of their top tacklers from 2016. Their only loss was Safety Maurice Smith. Even with the loss of Smith, the Bulldogs still return 4 guys that started. The Corners are pretty solid with Malkom Parrish and Deandre Baker. However, they may be pushed by super freshman Deangelo Gibbs who was a 5 star recruit. Tyrique McGee and Tulsa transfer JR Reed are others looking for and desiring playing time.
At Safety, seniors Dominick Sanders and Aaron Davis return for their last season. But, here again, watch out for super 5 star freshman Richard LaCounte III. He will be wanting and needing some playing time which is good for Georgia in the long run. Juwuan Briscoe and Jarvis Wilson bring quality depth to the position. Kirby Smart just finished his first season as head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs and his first real recruiting class was just off the charts good. Watch out for the Bulldogs in the future with Smart brining in talent like this.
8. LSU: A school that likes to be in the conversation when the term DBU comes up. The Florida Gators have a long standing battle with the LSU Tigers on who is DBU. The Tigers lost some good players from last year, but their rep is solid as is their depth chart. They also have an outstanding Defensive Coordinator in Dave Aranda and they will find the right players.
The Cornerbacks should be Kevin Toliver II and Donte Jackson. Toliver is a giant Corner at 6-3, 205. They have bodies at Cornerback but they are young and inexperienced. The oldest will be sophomore Kristian Fulton with redshirt freshman Greedy Williams and true freshmen Kary Vincent Jr and Jontre Kirklan looking for playing time.
The Safeties should be junior John Battle and senior Ed Paris. Backing them up is also nothing but
freshmen. This defensive backfield should be good unless there is an injury to a starter and then they could have issues. However, the youngsters will be talented and capable.
9. Auburn: The Tigers return 3 starters from their secondary and they should be good and dependable. Seniors Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts return at the Strong Safety and Free Safety positions. At the Corners are returning long time starter Carlton Davis and Javaris Davis. Javaris was a very good player as a freshman last season and Carlton should be all SEC this season, at least. The Tigers really don’t have a lot of quality depth in the defensive backfield with maybe their best being sophomore John Broussard Jr and senior Nick Ruffin.
At their Nickel Back, they have either Jeremiah Dinson or Daniel Thomas with both of them being sophomores. This could be a good season for the Auburn Tigers if their transfer Quarterback happens to work out.
10. Florida: The Gators have huge losses in their defensive backfield. But, since they consider themselves DBU, then they should be able to reload quickly.
Nick Washington does return for his senior season at Safety and he was one of the team’s leaders in tackles a year ago. Duke Dawson played some at Corner a year ago and he also returns for his last season in Gainesville. At the Right Cornerback spot should be talented sophomore Chauncey Gardner who was very good as a freshman last year and had 3 picks returning 1 for a Touchdown. The Gators always have talent and especially on defense and this year will be no different. At the other Safety should be another sophomore, Jeawan Taylor who played very little last season as a freshman. The Gators may usually have talent, but it seems they have no experienced depth in their secondary and they could have problems if they have any injuries at all back there.
11. Indiana: Why Indiana? Rashard Fant, Jonathan Crawford and last year’s 17 year old sensation Marcelino Ball. 17 year old
People underestimate these guys because they play football at Indiana and not basketball. Jonathan Crawford will be a junior this season and in his 3rd year as a starter. He’s a 6-2, 200 talent out of Largo, Florida and he’s been a team leader in tackles for the past 2 seasons even as a true freshman. He already has 7 career Interceptions and look for those numbers to improve as the Hoosiers now have a defensive minded head coach. Fant has quietly been one of the nation’s best Cornerbacks over the past 3 seasons. He has been in the top as far as passes defended and batted away over the past 3 years and he’s a very good cover Corner. He broke up 17 passes last season, but 22 as a sophomore. Last season, he had 3 Interceptions and he took 1 back for a Touchdown. The only thing that Fant lacks is ideal size at 5-10, 175.
Ball came in as a 17 year old last year and was an instant starter in their Husky position which is just another name for a Rover. Ball didn’t turn 18 until March of this year which is amazing. He was one of the team’s tackle leaders and an inspiration. All these guys are from the South and Tony Fields is back at Safety coming from Tallahassee, Florida. Fields was 5th on the team in total tackles a year ago and ready for more action. He’s something of a ball hawk with 2 picks and numerous break ups. The only new starter is Andre Brown Jr at the other Cornerback position. He has zero experience, but he’s a good sized kid and of course is from Decatur, Georgia. He moved ahead of Tyler Green, so he must have game. Backing Tony Fields is Chase Dutra who has made a lot of plays over the past couple of years. A’Shon Riggins is another Corner that saw lots of action last season, and is backing up Fant. Indiana won’t win the Big 10 this season, or the next, but they do have a little talent on the team and deserve a watch, or two.
12. USC: The Trojans lost 1st draft pick Adoree Jackson, but they return their other big time Cornerback, Iman ‘Biggie’ Marshall. I’m not always sure what it means when a Cornerback is one of your leading tacklers, for that matter when a Safety is as well. Ideally, you’d want your Linebackers, or even Defensive Linemen making the plays at the line of scrimmage and not getting Jack Jones got some much needed experience. Jones was one of the top Corner recruits in the country last season out of good ole Long Beach Poly. There’s depth, but it’s young. Marvel Tell and Chris Hawkins are back at the Safety spots and Ajene Harris is back as the Nickel. This should be a good Defensive backfield on one of the best teams in the nation. Keep an eye on highly recruited freshmen Isaiah Pola-Moa the nephew of long time Steeler great, Troy Palumalu, and Bubba Bolden from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman.
past them. But, that said, Marshall was one of the team’s leading tacklers a year ago. Plus, he tacked on 3 Interceptions and he broke up 8 passes. At the other Corner, replacing Jackson is a must. However, since Jackson returned punts and played some Offense, the Trojans rested him some and
13. Wisconsin: The Badgers have played musical chairs at Defensive Coordinator in recent seasons with Dave Aranda, Justin Wilcox and now former unheralded Wisconsin player turned NFL Safety Jim Leonhard taking over. Leonhard played 10 seasons in the NFL and was named Defensive Backs coach last season and now takes over at DC. He’s only coached 1 season, so that is somewhat scary, but the players love him and admire him for what he has done. Hopefully, that shows up on the field in 2017. The Badgers lost Leo Musso and Sojourn Shelton, but they have 3 seniors returning and a coach that knows how to play Defensive Back at the highest levels. Natrell Jamerson is the Free Safety and D’Cota Dixon is the Strong Safety. Both have plenty of playing time under their belts and Dixon was one of the top tacklers on the team a year ago. Derrick Tindall is one of those 3 seniors and he returns at Corner. True freshman Scott Nelson may have moved ahead of returning starter Lubern Figaro at the other Cornerback.
Wisconsin has always been a team that has done more with less and why should this season be any different.
14. Texas: The talent has been there, the coaching has not. They’ve looked dazed and confused for the past couple of seasons and finished way near the bottom in the statistical categories while the team has been awful. Here comes Tom Herman and his new staff and I do believe this secondary is going to be a strong unit before he is done. Cornerbacks Holton Hill, Kris Boyd and Davante Davis were all highly recruited, highly rated, highly talented kids that have just looked lost for the past 2 seasons. But, with a different coaching staff led by Tom Herman, the lack of direction should be corrected. At Strong Safety, DeShon Elliott, Jason Hall or maybe John Bonney if he’s not at Corner can all play. The Free Safety will be manned by the top rated Safety recruit in the country a couple of years back, Brandon Jones. The Nickel Back will be maybe the top Defensive Back, PJ Locke. They have some talent back there if they can figure out how to use them. Last season, the talented Brandon Jones rode the bench while a walk-on played. With new head coach and new Defensive Coordinator Todd Orlando, they should get this group in line to have a great season.