2009 CFN Preview - Unit Rankings ... DBs
USC S Josh Pinkard
USC S Josh Pinkard
Posted Aug 12, 2009

CFN 2009 Preview Unit Rankings - Linebackers Ranked 1 to 120

Preview 2009 ... Unit Rankings


- CFN Preview 2009
- CFN's Top 200 Players of 2009

CFN 2009 Unit Rankings
- Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defenses | Defensive Lines | Linebackers | Secondaries  | Special Teams

1. USC
USC will have no problem maintaining its title as college football’s best defensive backfield of the 21st century. The Trojans boast the best safety tandem in America in Taylor Mays and Josh Pinkard, and they have an embarrassment of riches at cornerback. Unless opposing quarterbacks have all day to throw, they’ll again have one of the stingiest and feistiest pass defenses this side of Gainesville.

2. Florida
The secondary took its lumps in a big way two years ago getting ripped apart by just about everyone who could throw a forward pass. Last year, Florida was third in the nation in pass efficiency defense and gave up 180 yards per game mostly because teams had to bomb away to try to keep up the pace. This year's secondary is loaded and should be among the strongest in America, if not the best, with a great safety tandem in Ahmad Black and Major Wright along with shutdown corner Joe Haden.

3. Virginia Tech
Regardless of the holes that need to be filled, Virginia Tech always seems to have the answer in the secondary. There’s enough depth and talent everywhere to fill out one of the league’s most impressive two-deeps. If there’s an issue, it’s at field corner, where Rashad Carmichael and Cris Hill must make quarterbacks pay for picking on them.

4. Tennessee
This might be the team’s biggest strength with speed, options, and a whole bunch up upside to work around Eric Berry, who might be the best player in college football. The key will be to find the right combination at safety to work the Tampa Cover 2 formation, which relies on zones and a whole bunch of speed. Considering this might be the fastest secondary in college football, or at least in the top ten, there’s a chance this could be a brick wall against the mediocre SEC passing teams.

5. Boston College
An area of concern last summer, BC heads into 2009 with a potentially killer group of defensive backs. There might not be any All-America candidates, although Wes Davis is a good one, but the group plays very well together and makes opposing receivers earn every single catch. Beyond an October stretch of games against Russell Wilson, Jimmy Clausen, and Dan LeFevour, no one will have much success against this unit.

6. Arizona
Last season was pegged as the rebuilding year, yet Arizona had one of the best pass defenses in the country. With many of the key parts of that group returning, led by CB Devin Ross, the Cats should be even better and more consistent. On speed and athleticism alone, they match up well against the average Pac 10 passing games.

7. Boise State
A case could be made that Boise State's highly-rated secondary didn't exactly face a who's who of passing teams, with the WAC passing games getting by more on reputation than production, but New Mexico State and Hawaii combined for just 344 yards with no touchdowns and six interceptions. Whatever. The Broncos allowed just eight touchdown passes with 22 interceptions, and now all the key parts are back.

8. Clemson
For the third year in-a-row, Clemson will have a dynamite defensive backfield and one of the best collections of talent in the ACC. It’s become a trend in these parts. Yeah, there's a safety issue that needs to be addressed, but the way the program has recruited in this area, it’s a hurdle it can clear. Against a schedule that’s short on potent passing games, the Tigers. led by CB Chris Chancellor, will again have one of the nation’s best pass defenses.

9. TCU
Helped by one of the nation's best pass rushes, the secondary came through with a big season allowing few big plays deep and picking off 15 passes. How good was this group? Oklahoma threw for 411 yards and four touchdowns in its win over the Horned Frogs. TCU allowed just four touchdown passes to everyone else, gave up two scoring passes over the last eight games, and didn't give up a 300-yard day to anyone other than Sam Bradford. The corner combination of Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders returns intact, and Tejay Johnson is the lone returning starter among the three safety spots. The other two spots are fine, there are exciting backups, and another year of a pass rush to help the cause.

10. Pitt
If they can avoid some of the breakdowns that plagued them last year, the Panthers are in nice shape in the defensive backfield. There’s a good mix of athletes, with corners Aaron Berry and Jovani Chappel, to go along with the thumpers, Dom DeCicco and Elijah Fields. Throw in the rush that’ll be generated up front, and it’ll be very tough throwing on Pitt this year.

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