2011 CFN Preview - Unit Rankings, Secondaries
Virginia Tech CB Jayron Hosley
Virginia Tech CB Jayron Hosley
Posted Aug 16, 2011

CFN 2011 Preview Unit Rankings from top to bottom - Secondaries

Preview 2011 - Unit Rankings


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2011 CFN Preseason Rankings
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CFN 2011 Unit Rankings
- Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defenses | Defensive Lines | Linebackers | Secondaries  | Special Teams  
- Preview 2011 | 2010 Unit Rankings

Note: This is based on talent, returning starters, and skill. It's not necessarily based on what the final total offense statistics will be.

1. Alabama
The 2010 Bama secondary lost three starters to the NFL and didn't get nearly the help from the pass rush that the 2009 defensive backs enjoyed, and the production was still terrific finishing 13th in the nation in pass defense and sixth in pass efficiency D. The inside word was that last year's defensive backfield was even more talented than the national title version, and now that talent should combine with experience to be phenomenal. Good luck throwing on this group. Dre Kirkpatrick and Mark Barron should be on several All-America short lists, while Robert Lester is a conference all-star and DeQuan Menzie and Dee Milliner would be just about anyone else's No. 1 corner to work a defensive backfield around. It'll be a stunner if the Tide doesn't finish in the top ten in America in pass defense.

2. LSU
With no pass rush to speak of in 2009, this secondary was stellar, ranking in the Top 20 in pass yards allowed. In 2010, as the pass rush improved, and so did the secondary. The defensive backs might have to step up and help out the linebackers a bit more than last season, but this gifted unit is more than capable of picking up where it's talented predecessors left off. Losing Patrick Peterson is a problem, but this should still be among the nation's best secondaries with Morris Claiborne and Tyann Mathieu two of the nation's best corners, and Craig Loston about to explode at free safety..

3. Florida State
Having recruited well for the defensive backfield in recent years, Florida State is about to start reaping all of the benefits of those efforts. The ‘Noles have pieced together an exciting collection of young athletes who are going to drive opposing quarterbacks nuts. This group has the closing speed and tenacity to compensate with a ton of turnovers and deflected balls this fall. The trio of corners Xavier Rhodes and Greg Reid along with safety Terrance Parks forms an electrifying blend of speed, burst, and tenacity that's needed to get a hand on the ball. The fact that the defensive backfield is littered with great athletes means quarterbacks won't be able to avoid one side of the field.

4. Georgia
The secondary was terrific at times last year and it should be rock solid. Brandon Boykin is an all-star talent who'll finally get more attention, and Bararri Rambo will put up good numbers. There's versatility and a nice blend of size, speed, and options. Shawn Williams is a backup who might as well be another starter in the secondary, while Rambo, Sanders Commings, Boykin, and Branden Smith are veterans who know what they're doing. This group didn't give up a slew of touchdown passes and it should be a wall at times.

5. Oregon
The Ducks lose just one starter to graduation, but it's a good one, All-Pac-10 CB Talmadge Jackson. A second starting cornerback might also be missing in action in a troubling off-field development that's still seeking a resolution. While Oregon yielded some yards a year ago, plenty of them came when the opposition was trying to battle back from a huge deficit. Plus, the secondary compensated by picking off a league-high 21 passes. Everything hinges on the availability of No. 13. If Cliff Harris is out for just the opener, after getting nailed for excessive speeding, the Oregon secondary will be every bit as opportunistic and stingy as it was in 2010. If, however, he's out for an extended period, the Ducks D is going to suffer.

6. Miami
Whether the glass is half-full or half-empty in the secondary depends on the specific position in question; the Hurricanes are loaded at safety, but must regroup at corner after losing three of last season's most important players. DeMarcus Van Dyke and Ryan Hill exhausted their eligibility and all-star Brandon Harris took off to the NFL. Duplicating last year's air-tight performance in pass defense is going to require some answers before the opener with Maryland in September. Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque are terrific safeties to build around, but the corners need to be consistent despite the lack of experience.

7. Virginia Tech
While corner Jayron Hosley and safety Eddie Whitley give the staff reason for optimism, Tech has to get the two new starters up to speed and build up some depth. The pass defense will once again be feisty, though it won't be impenetrable, flashing weakness against some of the more seasoned passers on the schedule. Even without some key parts from last year's secondary, the Hokies will continue to attack the ball and make things happen once they intercept it. Last year's team had an ACC-high 23 interceptions, a number that it'll approach again in 2011.

8. Kentucky
The secondary cane up with a great statistical season, finishing 14th in the nation in pass defense and 49th in pass efficiency defense, but that was partly because so many teams were busy running the ball at will. Even though there wasn't much of a pass rush last year to help the cause, and there won't be one this year, the production was still impressive. Now the secondary has the potential to be phenomenal with five starters returning from a group that operated in a 4-2-5 on a regular basis. This might not be the best defensive backfield in the SEC, but few in America have the time logged in that this one has. With so much returning starting experience, there's reason to be very, very excited. It would be nice if there were more picks, with the team coming up with nine picks on the year with Winston Guy making three of them, and it would be nice if there were more big plays and more stops on third downs, but this should be a good, sound group that'll be one of the teams' biggest strengths.

9. Oklahoma
As long as the pass rush is as strong as it was last year, and it probably will be, the secondary will turn out to be more than fine. There's talent and speed across the board and there's enough athleticism to expect a slew of big plays. The Sooners gave up 213 yards per game through the air, but that wasn't a big deal considering so many teams had to bomb away to try to keep up the pace with the high-octane OU passing attack. Even so, the secondary finished eighth in the nation in pass efficiency defense. There will be some shuffling and there will be some moves around the secondary to find the right parts to fit, but this should be a really, really strong group as the season goes on.

10. Penn State
All the starters are back from a group that helped Penn State finish 16th in the nation in pass defense even though there wasn't any help from the pass rush. The defense gave up 19 touchdown passes and only came up with ten picks, with LB Nate Stupar getting one of them, but the secondary should be far better with the promise of a better pass rush and with all the experience returning. With four excellent starters returning and with D'Anton Lynn and Nick Sukay likely all-stars, this should be one of the team's biggest strengths. The corners are big, the safeties can move, and there's quality depth at all four spots.


Air Force M-West
Boston College ACC
California Pac-12
Clemson ACC
Connecticut Big East
Florida SEC
Illinois Big Ten
Maryland  ACC
Michigan State Big Ten
Mississippi State SEC
Nebraska Big Ten
North Carolina ACC
Pitt Big East
South Florida Big East
Stanford Pac-12
TCU M-West
Texas Big 12
Virginia   ACC
West Virginia Big East
Wisconsin Big Ten


Arizona Pac-12
Arkansas SEC
Auburn SEC
Boise State M-West
Iowa Big Ten
Kansas State Big 12
Michigan Big Ten
Minnesota Big Ten
Notre Dame Ind
Ohio State Big Ten
Oregon State Pac-12
South Carolina SEC
Syracuse Big East
Tennessee SEC
UCLA  Pac-12
USC Pac-12
Vanderbilt SEC
Washington   Pac-12


Arizona State Pac-12
Cincinnati Big East
Colorado   Pac-12
Duke ACC
Georgia Tech ACC
Iowa State Big 12
Kansas Big 12
Louisville  Big East
Missouri Big 12
NC State ACC
Nevada WAC
Northwestern Big Ten
Oklahoma State Big 12
Ole Miss SEC
Purdue Big Ten
Rutgers  Big East
Texas A&M Big 12
Texas Tech Big 12
Utah   Pac-12
Wake Forest ACC


Ball State MAC
Baylor Big 12
Central Michigan MAC
FIU Sun Belt
Fresno State WAC
Idaho WAC
Indiana  Big Ten
Miami Univ. MAC
North Texas Sun Belt
Northern Illinois MAC
San Diego State M-West
San Jose State WAC
Toledo MAC
Washington State Pac-12
Western Michigan MAC


Akron MAC
Arkansas State Sun Belt
Army Ind
Bowling Green MAC
Buffalo MAC
Colorado State M-West
Eastern Michigan MAC
Hawaii WAC
Kent State MAC
Marshall C-USA
Memphis C-USA
Middle Tennessee Sun Belt
Navy Ind
Ohio   MAC
Temple MAC
Troy Sun Belt
Tulane C-USA
Tulsa C-USA
UL Monroe Sun Belt
Utah State WAC
Western Kentucky Sun Belt


East Carolina C-USA
Florida Atlantic Sun Belt
Houston C-USA
Louisiana Tech WAC
New Mexico   M-West
New Mexico State WAC
Rice C-USA
Southern Miss C-USA
UL Lafayette Sun Belt
Wyoming M-West

CFN 2011 Unit Rankings
- Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defenses | Defensive Lines | Linebackers | Secondaries  | Special Teams  
- Preview 2011 | 2010 Unit Rankings