- Adoree Jackson – USC (5-11, 185) Gardena, California. Soph: Jackson is one exciting player. Coming into USC last season as a 5 star recruit, Adoree Jackson was on the field immediately for the Trojans. Jackson started at Cornerback for the suspended Josh Shaw and did well enough that he was named Pac 12 Freshman of the year. He was much better than that. USC had him playing both ways in 2014, plus returning Kick offs. The punt return job last season belonged to Nelson Agholor, but he has taken his talents to the NFL and Jackson will more than likely inherit that job as well. Jackson caught 10 passes with 3 of those going for
Touchdowns. He returned 23 Kickoffs with 2 of those going for Touchdowns and averaging just slightly under 30 yards per return. At Cornerback, Jackson had 49 total tackles with 4 for loss and 9 pass break ups. Jackson has incredible closing speed. I am basing my opinion on his being the best Defensive Back in college football off of what I believe he will do in 2015. I believe he will be one of the more exciting players in college football for 2015.
- Kendall Fuller – Virginia Tech (6-0, 190) Baltimore, Maryland. Jr: Fuller was Virginia Tech’s top recruit in 2013 and he was a star from the first day he put on the Hokie uniform. I would have no problem at all placing Fuller at the top of this list because he is extremely talented. In his freshman season, Fuller arrived on the scene with 6 Interceptions. In his sophomore season of 2014, Fuller only picked off 2 passes, but he took one of them back for a Touchdown. In 2014, Fuller broke up 15 passes, totaled 54 tackles, with 4.5 for loss and 2 Quarterback sacks. Fuller is big time and will be a top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
- Quin Blanding – Virginia (6-4, 215) Virginia Beach, Virginia. Soph: The true freshman Blanding had an incredible first season leading his team in tackles impressively with 123 total and had 2.5 of those tackles for loss. He added a Quarterback sack and he broke up 6 passes. In his first season Blanding also had 3 Interceptions. Quin Blanding was a 5 star recruit and the number 1 rated safety in the country coming out of high school in 2014 and proved he deserved that rating immediately on the college field. He could also keep growing and outgrow the
safety position and move to Linebacker.
- Vonn Bell – Ohio State (5-11, 200) Rossville, Georgia. Jr: Vonn Bell was a member of the 2013 Ohio State Buckeye recruiting class that is being compared to their incredible class of 1968. Bell played sparingly in 2013, but moved into the starting role in 2014. He was the team’s second leading tackler this past season with 92 total with 2 of those for loss and another Quarterback sack. He did lead his team in Interceptions with 6 total and he had another 6 pass break ups. The leader of the Ohio State secondary returns for another chance at winning a national championship.
- Vernon Hargreaves III – Florida (5-11, 195) Tampa, Florida. Jr: Hargreaves is really on par with the other top Cornerbacks across the country including Kendall Fuller and Adoree Jackson. He is very much a shut down corner and had some classic battles with Amari Cooper of Alabama last season. He finished with 50 total tackles in 2014 with 2 for loss. He also came down with 3 Interceptions and broke up another 13 passes. The Gators have had a struggle the past couple of years but none of that had anything to do with the defense and particularly stars like Hargreaves and Dante Fowler Jr. Hargreaves will no doubt come out after the 2015 season and he should be a high draft pick.
- Ishmael Adams – UCLA (5-8, 190) Woodland Hills, California. Jr: Not the biggest of football players, but this guy is super explosive. Adams Intercepted 2 passes and returned both of them for Touchdowns. He had a Touchdown as a Kickoff returner and had several long punt returns called back by penalty. Adams totaled 41 tackles with 1 for loss and he had 4 pass breakups, but offenses tended to avoid Adams as often as possible. He was All Pac 12 in 2014 and will repeat as that at least and he should make most All American teams. It will be interesting to see what kind of 40 times Adams turns in at the NFL Combine because he has another gear that
most players don’t have.
- Eli Apple – Ohio State (6-1, 200) Voorhees, New Jersey. Soph: 5 star Cornerback coming out of New Jersey and another member of fabulous 2013 class for Ohio State. Apple was rated behind top Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III of Florida and Mackensie Alexander of Clemson. Apple was able to redshirt in 2013 and then he started every game for the Buckeyes in 2014. Apple recorded 3 Interceptions and broke up another 10 passes, while totaling 53 tackles and making 5.5 of those for loss. Outstanding Cornerback and player for the Buckeyes.
- Nate Andrews – Florida State (5-11, 210) Fairhope, Alabama. Jr: Andrews will be in his 3rd season as a starter on national championship quality football teams at Florida State. Was the teams second leading tackler in 2014 with 93 total tackles. He had 4 Interceptions as a freshman in the Seminoles national championship run in 2013 and then he had another 3 picks this past season. Andrews had a fumble forced, and broke up 5 passes. Andrews was recruited as a Wide Receiver in the 2013 class and came in with more highly touted teammate Jalen Ramsey, but quickly converted to Safety and has been a standout for the Seminoles.
- William Likely – Maryland (5-7, 175) Belle Glade, Florida. Jr: Pint sized Defensive Back that is one of the most explosive and exciting players in the country. He is tiny, but he somehow managed 83 total tackles and 4 tackles for loss, plus a Quarterback sack. Likely picked off 6 passes in 2014 of which 2 were returned for Touchdowns. He also broke up 9 more passes. A brilliant return man with a punt return for a Touchdown as well as a kick return for a score. If Likely was a little bigger, he would no doubt be the best player in the country, but then he
might still be one of the best. He’s one of the top Cornerbacks in the country as well as one of the top return men.
- Jalen Ramsey – Florida State (6-0, 190) Brentwood, Tennessee. Jr: Ramsey was rated right below 5 star Cornerback Eli Apple coming out of high school. Ramsey played Cornerback as a freshman on the national championship team, but moved to Safety for his sophomore season. He was among the top tacklers for the Seminoles in 2014 with 80 total tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss, plus 3 Quarterback sacks. Ramsey has been a huge part of the Seminole defense since he arrived in Tallahassee.
- Chris Hackett – TCU (6-2, 195) Tyler, Texas. Sr: One of the top players on a really good Hornfrog team that felt they were robbed of a playoff spot by the selection committee. To prove that, they went out and blew out Ole Miss in their bowl game. Hackett was one of the top defenders for the Frogs with 75 total tackles with 3.5 of those tackles for loss. Hackett also pulled down 7 Interceptions and batted down 6 more passes and forced a fumble. Some preseason polls have TCU ranked as highly as 2 and Hackett returning is a large part of that.
- DeVon Edwards – Duke (5-9, 175) Covington, Georgia. Jr: Edwards and sidekick Jeremy Cash just might be the best Safety tandem in the entire country. Edwards is one of the more productive even if he is a bit undersized. Edwards was second on the Blue Devil defense in tackles a year ago behind excellent Linebacker David Helton with 133 total. Among those tackles he had 7.5 for loss and 4.5 Quarterback sacks. He did pick off only 1 pass, but also knocked down 9 others and hurried the Quarterback a couple of times. He also forced 5 fumbles which is impressive. The other Duke safety had almost equal numbers and 1 more Interception.
- Nate Gerry – Nebraska (6-2, 205) Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jr: Many will laugh at my pick here, but this guy is a player. Gerry is a big, physical safety that can bring the wood. He totaled 88 tackles in 2014, with 4.5 of those for loss and a half of a Quarterback sack. Gerry also had 5 Interceptions and broke up 4 passes, hurried the Quarterback 3 times, forced 2 fumbles and
recovered another. This guy is a super productive, hard hitting player and a fun guy to watch. It will be interesting to follow the historically rich Nebraska program as they go through this coaching turnover and see if they can make a move up in the Big 10 Conference.
- Jayron Kearse – Clemson (6-4, 210) Fort Myers, Florida. Jr: Big, strong, fast Safety in the ACC that was one of the very best defenders on the nation’s best defense. Kearse had 60 total tackles with 5 tackles for loss and 3 Quarterback sacks. He had 2 interceptions and broke up 5 more passes, plus recovered a fumble. Clemson lost a majority of their top front 7 players so guys like Kearse are going to have to pick it up quite a bit until the younger guys mature. Tall and rangy Defensive Back that can cover a lot of ground.
- Jonathon Jones – Auburn (5-10, 182) Carrollton, Georgia. Sr: One of the more exciting events of the off season for a football fan such as myself is the hiring of Will Muschamp as Defensive Coordinator for the Auburn Tigers. With that offense and the prospect of having a top defense at Auburn, this could be a great team for he next few years. Jones picked off 6 passes in 2014 and broke up an additional 12. Jones had 36 total tackles last year. Expect this defense to be
pretty stiff in 2015 and Jones is a good player for them.
- Zach Sanchez – Oklahoma (5-11, 179) Fort Worth, Texas. Jr: Sanchez had 6 big Interceptions for the Sooners a year ago and returned one for a Touchdown. Along the way, he broke up 5 more passes, blocked a kick and totaled 43 tackles with 1 of those for loss. Sanchez has been a bit undersized but has begun to put on some serious muscle and proved a year ago that he could play Cornerback in the pass happy Big 12 Conference. The Sooners are going through transition and they will need a big year out of Sanchez and the defense.
- Jabrill Peppers – Michigan (6-1, 202) East Orange, New Jersey. Fr or Soph: Peppers was a much celebrated 5 star recruit and the highest rated Defensive Back in last year’s class. Peppers was set for honors as possibly the top freshman in the country and played in the first game and then was injured and tried to come back and played briefly. I am pretty sure he will be granted a redshirt and be able to start over as a freshman next season. Peppers is the real deal and will be a standout on the Wolverines defense in 2015 if he is not injured again. The problems with the Michigan Wolverines did not have anything to do with their defense a year ago. Watch for Peppers to be the next big defensive star at Michigan under new coach Jim Harbaugh.
Some other possibilities:
Jeremy Cash – Duke
DJ White – Georgia tech
Marcus Maye – Florida
Quincy Mauger – Georgia
AJ Stamps – Kentucky
Jamal Adams – LSU
Tony Conner – Ole Miss
Taveze Calhoun – Mississippi State
Kenya Davis – Missouri
Budda Baker – Washington
Cole Luke – Notre Dame