1. Miami

Statistically 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.

2. Oklahoma

Despite the 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 quality depth.

3. Arkansas

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.


Any struggles 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.

5. Southern Miss

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.