Running Back Defensive Line
Wide Receiver Linebacker
Offensive Line Defensive Back
Defensive Back
Miami FL
Different year, same results as the Canes consistently field the nation’s best secondaries, regardless of whether you know the names (yet) or not. All-American senior Brandon Meriweather is a major reason why UM’s D was the only squad in 2005 to allow foes less than four yards per play as he quietly led the team in TFLs from his strong safety slot. This year’s group may otherwise be young, but it must be something in the water that keeps Miami’s secondary so well stocked with size and especially speed.

Louisiana State
Ever since Nick Saban, the defensive backfields down on the Bayou have been stellar, and 2006 boasts the fruition of his last recruiting efforts here. A two-deep comprised of all upperclassmen boasts three returning starters, with free safety LaRon Landry possibly the SEC’s best DB. The way this secondary man-handled the Canes’ WRs in the 2005 Peach Bowl gives them the argument for the top spot here, but what do you expect when they practice against the nation’s top WR unit (and vice versa)?

Two big personnel losses will scantly be missed with so much DB talent stacked in Austin. The remaining Griffins bring talent to the safety slots that is as good in run support as it is at playing the deep pass. No one wants to go to “jail” in Texas, but that’s what the lockdown imposed by corners Ross and “T Boogie” Brown suggests for opposing WRs. Depth galore means not even injuries can keep this crew from again ranking in the top 10 for most major pass defense categories.

Many will scrutinize this choice, but last year’s mediocre results were because of the Vols second-ranked run defense - teams picked on the DBs, and they still only allowed nine TDs by air. All four starters are back…therefore, hard lessons learned will translate and ratchet-up this unit’s level of play. The talent of these four is bolstered by five-star sophomore Demetrice Morley, who now has the experience to really make an impact. Losing all three LBs will spread them thin, but then Fulmer has an excuse to “nickel and dime” opponents for optimum results.

Seniors Leon Hall (all-American CB) and Willis Barringer (SS) lead the youth movement that will surprise many not expecting the Blue-and-Maize to be strong here. The quick, hard-hitting Wolverines keep the action in front of them and recover well on play fakes as they give great run-stopping aid. With fabulous LBs to make Michigan’s back-seven one of the best in I-A, only the Irish, Spartans and Buckeyes will even challenge this tight coverage unit.

Just Missed: Boston College, California, Virginia Tech