2006 Unit Rankings – Defensive Backs

Posted Aug 27, 2006

Preview 2006 Unit Rankings Defensive Backs 

Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
Defenses | Def. Lines | Linebackers | Spec. Teams

1. Miami

Statistically, this won't be the nation's number one pass defense again, but it won't be far off. There's a little bit of a question mark at corner needing Glenn Sharpe to return 100% from a torn ACL and hoping for either Randy Phillips or Bruce Johnson to go from being decent backup to a solid starter, or else hope for star recruit Ryan Hill to live up to expectations right away. The safeties are among the deepest and most talented Miami has ever had with Brandon Meriweather and Kenny Phillips each on the short list for All-America honors and Anthony Reddick, once he returns from a knee injury, isn't far behind. Lovon Ponder is a great looking young safety who has to somehow find his way on the field.

2. LSU

Even with the loss of top corner Ronnie Prude this will be one of the SEC's best secondaries. The safety combination of LaRon Landry and Jessie Daniels is one of the nation's best, while Chevis Jackson is on the verge of being a perennial All-SEC performer at corner. There's enough speed among the reserve to still field a decent group if disaster strikes.

3. Texas
Texas was eighth in the nation in pass defense and fourth in pass efficiency defense, but that's partly due to not playing too many teams that threw the ball on a regular basis. Texas Tech put up 369 yards (albeit in a blowout) and Matt Leinart cranked out 365 yards in the national title game. What gets lost is how well this group tackles. Tarrell Brown and Aaron Ross might be the best hitting corners in the country, while Michael Griffin could follow Michael Huff's lead and win the Thorpe Award. There's good depth with the luxury of having backup corners in Ryan Palmer and Brandon Foster who are faster than the starters.

4. Auburn
This could be the SEC's best secondary led by a tremendous pair of corners in David Irons and Jonathan Wilhite, and a great reserve in Montavis Pitts. Everyone in the Tiger secondary can tackle with Irons and Wilhite among the best hitting corners in the country allowing 199 yards per game and a total of eight touchdown passes. The move of Will Herring to linebacker means former running back Tristan Davis has to use his speed to be a steady force at free safety, while Eric Brock and Steve Gandy have to be rocks right away at strong safety. Watch out for Aairon Savage who looked like a natural at safety this spring after moving over from corner.

5. South Florida
The nation's sixth best pass defense should be even better with the league's best corner tandem in Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams and helped by the return of Danny Verpaele after missing last year with a broken foot. How strong is the USF secondary? The team's fourth leading tackler last season, Carlton Williams, is a backup. There's excellent speed and athleticism among the reserves with several good options to form a good rotation.

6. Connecticut
The nation's number four pass defense returns three starters and enough depth and experience to have a nice rotation all year long with big-time competition for some of the starting spots. Darius Butler isn't going anywhere as one of the Big East's brightest young cornerbacks, and Marvin Taylor should grow even further in his role at free safety. Speedy Tyvon Brach is an emerging star on the other side of Butler. Safeties Allan Barnes, Donnell Ford and Donta Moore will start the season as reserves, but they could all see starting time at some point.  

7. Michigan
This could be a fantastic group if the coaching staff figures out where to put everyone. Leon Hall will start at one corner spot, and then everything is up for grabs with too many good safeties to find spots for now that Ryan Mundy is back and healthy after a shoulder problem. Brandent Englemon, Willie Barringer, Jamar Adams and Brandon Harrison will all see starting time this year at one or both of the safety spots. Charles Stewart appears to be the answer on the other side of Hall, but Morgan Trent will also be in the hunt.

8. Oklahoma
The Sooners didn't really have to go through many lumps last year with so many young players seeing meaningful time, but the secondary wasn't as good as it's going to be this year now that Reggie Smith, Darien Williams and Nic Harris are mature sophomores. The corner situation is rock solid with Smith moving over from strong safety and D.J. Wolfe an all-star on the other side, so the focus will be at safety where the competition will be fierce for starting spots up until the opener.

9. Florida
Things aren't that bad despite losing three very good starters in Dee Webb, Vernell Brown and Jarvis Herring. It all starts with the supremely talented Reggie Nelson, who spent most of last year as a nickel back and made plays all over the field. He's a next-level talent at either safety position. Tony Joiner and Kyle Jackson help to solidify a great safety situation. Corner is another story needing Reggie Lewis to go from being a nice backup to a reliable number one, and hoping for Tremaine or Jermaine McCollum to be ready to roll on the other side.

10. Virginia Tech
As always, the Virginia Tech special teams will be among the best in the country. Placekicker Brandon Pace and punter Nic Schmitt are All-America candidates, and now the return game has to step up after a mediocre 2005. Eddie Royal is too speedy not to do more as the team's main kick returner, while the rest of the top receivers will also provide a little help.

11 Tennessee SEC
12 Arizona   Pac 10
13 Ohio State Big Ten
14 Colorado   Big 12 
15 NC State ACC
16 Boston College ACC
17 Pitt Big East
18 Tulsa CUSA
19 Florida State  ACC
20 Georgia SEC
21 Clemson ACC
22 Mississippi State SEC
23 Baylor Big 12 
24 Mississippi   SEC
25 Maryland ACC
26 Syracuse Big East
27 Kansas   Big 12 
28 San Diego State M-West
29 USC Pac 10
30 California Pac 10
31 Wisconsin Big Ten
32 Utah M-West
33 Louisville  Big East
34 Alabama SEC
35 TCU M-West
36 North Carolina ACC
37 Notre Dame Ind
38 Virginia ACC
39 Cincinnati Big East
40 Fresno State WAC
42 South Carolina SEC
43 East Carolina CUSA
44 Colorado State M-West
45 Houston CUSA
46 Nebraska Big 12 
47 Iowa Big Ten
48 Georgia Tech ACC
49 Penn State Big Ten
50 Missouri Big 12 
51 West Virginia Big East
52 Arkansas   SEC
53 Texas Tech Big 12 
54 Michigan State Big Ten
55 Southern Miss  CUSA
56 Boise State WAC
58 Akron MAC
59 UCLA Pac 10
60 Minnesota Big Ten
61 Indiana Big Ten
62 Toledo MAC
63 Kent State MAC
64 Oregon Pac 10
65 Iowa State Big 12 
66 Kansas State Big 12 
67 Arizona State Pac 10
68 Wake Forest ACC
69 Oregon State  Pac 10
70 Oklahoma State Big 12 
71 Washington State Pac 10
72 Duke ACC
73 Rutgers Big East
74 Vanderbilt SEC
75 Navy Ind
76 Illinois Big Ten
78 Northern Illinois MAC
79 Stanford Pac 10
80 New Mexico M-West
81 Wyoming  M-West
82 Arkansas State Sun Belt
83 Miami Univ. MAC
84 UNLV M-West
85 UL Monroe Sun Belt
86 Texas A&M Big 12 
87 Washington Pac 10
88 BYU M-West
89 Purdue Big Ten
90 Kentucky SEC
91 Marshall CUSA
92 Nevada WAC
93 Northwestern Big Ten
94 Memphis CUSA
96 Troy Sun Belt
97 Bowling Green MAC
98 Air Force M-West
99 Rice CUSA
100 Louisiana Tech WAC
101 Hawaii WAC
102 MTSU Sun Belt
103 Florida Atlantic Sun Belt
104 Idaho WAC
105 Tulane CUSA
106 Buffalo MAC
107 UL Lafayette Sun Belt
108 Western Michigan MAC
109 Ohio MAC
110 Army Ind
111 FIU Sun Belt
112 Utah State WAC
113 Central Michigan  MAC
114 Ball State MAC
115 Eastern Michigan MAC
116 North Texas Sun Belt
117 San Jose State WAC
118 New Mexico State WAC
119 Temple Ind