August 30, 2009

Veteran defensive backs key to success

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Today, we continue unveiling our national unit rankings with secondaries. We'll unveil one per day and end next Tuesday with overall coaching staffs.

The No. 1 team in the secondary ranking returns all four starters and each of its top reserves. The best news for the coaching staff? None of the starters is a senior.

Here are the secondary unit rankings. Next up: special teams.


1. Florida
: All four starters are back, as are all the top backups. Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins form the best cornerback tandem in the nation. Both are physical in run support and sticky man-to-man defenders. SS Ahmad Black tied for the national lead with seven picks last season. Sophomore FS Will Hill isn't a starter, but he might be the best athlete on the team.

2. USC
: The safety duo of Taylor Mays and Josh Pinkard should be the best in the nation. There are some good cornerbacks, and depth is solid across the board.

3. TCU
: The Horned Frogs play a 4-2-5 set, and three starters return. The cornerback tandem of Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders is aggressive and experienced, and FS Tejay Johnson is a rising star. TCU allowed just eight TD passes last season, second-fewest in the nation.

4. Virginia Tech
: Stephan Virgil will be the Hokies' star cornerback this season. FS Kam Chancellor has great size, and SS Dorian Porch is a big hitter.

5. California
: Syd'Quan Thompson might be the best cornerback in the nation. SS Marcus Ezeff is a good one, too. Cal had 24 picks last season, third-most in the nation, and all four starters return.

6. Alabama
: Three starters are back, but the Tide will miss star FS Reshad Johnson. SS Justin Woodall is a big hitter, and CB Javier Arenas doubles as a dangerous return man.

7. Ohio State
: The Buckeyes will miss CB Malcolm Jenkins, but this remains a talented unit. The safety tandem of Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell is excellent.

8. Boise State
: CB Kyle Wilson is a star; he also is a great punt returner. Boise had 22 picks and allowed just eight TD passes last season. FS George Iloka is the only new starter, but he played extensively last season and had 62 tackles, four picks and six pass breakups.

9. Clemson
: Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor make up the best cornerback tandem in the ACC. SS DeAndre McDaniel started at linebacker last season, but safety is his more natural position.

10. Oklahoma
: Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson are returning starters at cornerback. Coaches expect big things from new FS Quinton Carter.

8 OTHERS TO WATCH: Georgia Tech(Three starters return, headed by All-America SS Morgan Burnett); Iowa(CB Amari Spievey has a chance to be an All-America, and there's a solid safety duo); LSU(Sophomore CB Patrick Patterson is a rising star); Michigan State(CBs Chris L. Rucker and Ross Weaver are big, fast and experienced); Notre Dame(Three starters return, plus the Irish again have the services of talented CB Darrin Walls, who sat out last season); Pittsburgh(CB Aaron Berry is the standout in an experienced group); Texas(Those freshman safeties from last season? They're sophomores now. And the corners are solid); UCLA(CB Al Verner will be one of the best in the nation at his position, and sophomore SS Rahim Moore is a guy to keep an eye on).

(Rankings by staffers Olin Buchanan, Tom Dienhart, David Fox, Mike Huguenin and Steve Megargee.) is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
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