Running Back Defensive Line
  Wide Receiver Linebacker
  Offensive Line Defensive Back
Defensive Back


One thing Bob Stoops has never been short on is his ability to attract top rated DBs. The Sooners have stockpiled seven players with starting experience - five of those have recently earned some form of All-Big 12 honors, and all of them are in their third or fourth years...truly, an unbelievable stat. Even the backups have combined for 31 career starts, and each was a highly touted prep star. Junior nickel back Nic Harris led the team in INTs and was third in tackles. Corner Lendy Holmes uses his 6’1 frame to shut down any size receiver on the outside while tightly securing the corner on runs. William and Smith form possibly the best safety pair in the land, and the depth here means new, top-quality prospects are stacked and waiting. Any of these players could be a star on other Top 25 teams. There is no backfield that is (even close to) as deep as the one the Sooners field.


You won't find the Scarlet Knights’ secondary ranked this high in many other 2007 previews. Simply put, Coach Schiano's pass coverage finished ranked 6th for total pass defense and 8th for pass efficiency. This was a major reason they did so well so suddenly during last year's infamous climb out of the longtime Big East basement. SS Courtney Greene, who led all freshmen in the NCAA in tackles (116) two years ago, returns once again as the team's leading tackler (82 tackles). His efforts last year were good enough to earn him All-Big East honors and place him on the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List. Greene led the team in interceptions, too, with four. FS Ron Girault also earned All-Big East honors in '06, giving Rutgers two of the best safeties on the east coast. The McCourtney twins will man both CB spots. Jason has been tabbed this preseason as an All-Big East honoree by many prognosticators. Greene, Girault and the entire secondary will be another reason the Knights can hang with Louisville and West Virginia atop the conference standings.

Virginia Tech

Frank Beamer knows defense. Taking a look at the numbers reveals just how good this 2007 group can be. In each of the last three years, the Hokies had to replace three DB starters, but they still managed to finish No. 5 in 2004, No. 3 in ’05 and No. 1 last year in total pass defense. The nation's best only loses one starter this time around. The Hokies have three CBs who have been full time starters, though, Roland Minor missed most of '06 with injury. CB Brandon Flowers earned All-American status as just a sophomore. His cover skills have progressed dramatically with each 'passing' game. If history is any indication, Beamer Ball – of which good defense is an important element - will allow this team to play with and cover anybody.

Miami FL

Leaving the Hurricanes out of these rankings would be similar to leaving eggs and flour out of your cake mix...just can't do it with the talent annually found in Coral Gables. Something is certainly remarkable about the way this part of south Florida has put so many big-time cover men into the NFL, and the Canes have reaped the benefits with tight secondaries seemingly every year (though, they were only 24th in pass efficiency defense last campaign). Miami will climb back near the top of the pass defense ratings as 2007 will prove. Seven of their top eight are back in the mix, four with starting experience from 2006. Anything short of a top 10 finish in these same ratings would be a shocker. Kenny Phillips made our preseason All-American team. Like many Canes before him, some consider Phillips to be the best safety in college football. Backups such as Willie Cooper and Chavez Grant have made their share of game changing plays. This unit will be a huge reason Miami bounces back as a team.


The so-called ‘pass happy’ Pac Ten did not seem to bother the Duck defense last fall. They finished No. 1 overall in Pac Ten pass defense (20th nationally) and return three players (from this five DB set) who earned All-conference status. The Ducks on the corners both garnered Freshman All-American honors; Jarius Byrd also earned Pac Ten Co-Freshman of the Year and led the team in INTs (five). Junior rover Pat Chung, the third all-conference member of the secondary, cleans up as well on running plays as he does in coverage (four INTs). DB coach Neal compares Chung to the San Diego Chargers' Shawne Merriman...ouch! Receivers going across the middle will have to keep their head on a loose swivel. Hey, Eugene!

Just Missed: Auburn, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Penn State, South Florida, TCU, Wisconsin