RANKINGS - DEFENSIVE BACKS
speaking, no other secondary in college football came close to the
Canes' pass defense. Of course, you can't achieve that type of performance
without having top-notch talent. The 6'3'' Sean Taylor garnishes
most of the attention with his big size, big play, and big-hit style.
The versatile Antrel Rolle is equally as important, but lesser known.
While able to play strong safety if need be, Antrel Rolle will return
as one of the countries best kept secrets at one corner, while Kelly
Jennings reminds many of a young Phillip Buchanan at the other.
Maurice Sikes will also return as he tries to bounce back to old
form after recovering from off season shoulder surgery. Alphonso
Marshal and Glenn Sharpe just add more quality depth at corner.
Why they're #1? : Across the board nobody outside of Oklahoma has
this much talent in one secondary, but unlike Oklahoma, this group
has yet to have a bad game.
loss of Andre Woolfolk, the Sooner still managed to not only find
a replacement, but also improve the overall talent pool. Free Safety
Brandon Everage, who can be a terror in the box returns to his starting
position, with All-American cornerback Derrick Strait and Eric Bassey.
Bassey will be moved around after initially struggling at the strong
safety spot. The electrifying Antonio Perkins finally gets his chance
to impress at the corner opposite Strait's, while JUCO transfers
Donte Nicholson and Chijioke Onyenegecha have the talent to force
their way into the starting lineup sooner than later.
Why they're #2? : Outside of Miami, no one touches Oklahoma with
talent. In fact you can make an argument that the Sooners have more
In terms of
talent and experience, no one in the SEC has more than the Razorbacks.
While Ken Hamlin might not be back at Free Safety, Arkansas still
returns an experienced pair of corners in Lawrence Richardson and
Ahmad Carroll who both have earned All-SEC honors. Both Marvin Jackson
and Bo Mosely are also quality corners who have filled in nicely
whenever asked. Jimmy Beasely returns at Free Safety while Jimarr
Gallon will probably take over at Strong Safety.
Why they're #3? : Yes, the Razorbacks struggled learning a new defensive
scheme, but with a year under their belts', all this talent, depth,
and experience should be the SEC's top secondary.
the Bruins went through last season may have had more to do with
personnel placement rather than talent. One of the nation's premier
defenders - Matt Ware, will continue to flourish at the corner spot
while the talented Ben Emanuel II plays free safety. Stong safety
Jarrod Page returns for his second season, while the corner spot
opposite Ware could be an adventure.
Why they're #4? : Statistically speaking, no secondary in the Pac-10
will ever impress anyone statistically, but with all the great quarterbacks
and wide receivers in the conference ranks, the secondary should
more than hold its own.
Year in year
out, Southern Miss is consistently at the tops in pass defense.
While much has to do with the aid of a very good front seven, the
talent in the secondary cannot be ignored. Leading the unit is All-American
candidate Etic Pruitt at free safety. Returning at strong safety
is Alex Ray, while the solid play of Greg Brooks is back for his
senior year as well. Taking over at one of the corner spots will
be first time starter John Eubanks. The young corner looked very
promising as a reserve last year and should turn into a future star
for the Southern Miss defense.
Why they're #5? This group will never get the respect it deserves
because it's not flashy. Despite that, these blue-collar guys always
play sound pass-defense and consistently stay towards the top in
most defensive passing statistics.
Just Missed: Texas
Leading the way for what could be a strong secondary are the duo
of Nathan Vasher and Dakarai Pearson. Despite having a sub-par 2002
season, Vasher looks to bounce back to his old form, while Pearson
returns at free safety after leading the team last year with six
INTs. Michael Huff will again occupy strong safety, while future
standout Edorian McCullough competes with Cedric Griffin for the
corner spot opposite Vasher. If the Longhorns can stay healthy and
get consistent play from both corners, then the secondary could
very well be the defense's strongest unit.
Could be there: Southern Cal
While talent might not keep the Trojans from having one of the better
secondaries in the country, chemistry could be a potential roadblock.
Kevin Arbet and Marcell Allmond both have experience at CB while
free safety Jason Leach has seen some time at FS. The talk of the
town, though, has been Darnell Bing. The prep All-American has shown
enough ability this spring to make most believe he's as good as
the hype. All in all, the player who might prove most valuable could
be JUCO All-American - Will Poole. The former BC standout is versatile
enough to play either safety or corner and could be too talented
not to find his way on the first team.