Summer Standouts: Assessing the top DBs on the camp circuit
Now that the summer camps have wound down, Rivals.com is taking a position-by-position look at the summer standouts. After taking stock of the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, defensive linemen and linebackers, it's time to evaluate the defensive backs.
Note: Players are listed in alphabetical order, not by star ranking.
• Quin Blanding, Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside: There may not have been a better safety on the camp circuit all summer, regardless of class, than the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Blanding. Beginning at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in June, Blanding dominated everywhere he went, including at the New Level Athletics 7-on-7 National Championship, Top Gun and Gridiron Kings.
• Keelon Brookins, Oakdale (Minn.) Tartan: Brookins lost almost the entirety of his junior season to a knee injury, and while he appeared at the Army Junior Combine in January, he still wasn't feeling 100 percent. By the time Brookins showed up at the Illinois Nike Camp in June, however, he was more than just at full health -- he was bigger and faster than we've ever seen him. The 6-foot, 185-pound prospect took home Defensive Back MVP honors at the event.
• Tony Brown, Beaumont (Tex.) Ozen: Like Blanding, Brown proved that he could excel against 2013 prospects at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge, Top Gun and Gridiron Kings. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder has the size of a safety but appears to be better suited to play the cornerback position in college.
• Hatari Byrd, Fresno (Calif.) Central East: The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Byrd is already listed among the nation's top 250 prospects, so there may not be a lot of upward rankings mobility available. But Byrd had a consistently impressive summer nonetheless. He was ranked among the top 10 defensive backs at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge and turned in another top performance at Gridiron Kings. He closed out the month of July by committing to Oklahoma.
• Kendall Fuller, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel: The nation's No. 3 overall prospect, Fuller didn't hide behind his lofty five-star rating. He garnered top performer honors at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, The Opening and Gridiron Kings. He wrapped up the summer by announcing his much-anticipated commitment to Virginia Tech.
• Vernon Hargreaves III, Tampa (Fla.) Wharton: If there's a cornerback who can give Fuller a run for the No. 1 defensive back ranking, Hargreaves would likely be the player to do it. The Florida commit has played safety for much of his career, but at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, he is projected to play cornerback in college. Hargreaves was dominant in appearances at the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships and Gridiron Kings.
• Marcell Harris, Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips: Harris caught some flak for dropping several potential interceptions over the summer, but that overshadowed another fact: His habit of dropping the football wouldn't have surfaced if he wasn't in position to make so many plays. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound safety has great instincts for the position and closes down passing lanes in a hurry. He just needs to work on finishing.
• Jahmere Irvin-Sills, Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy: The Auburn commit turned in two outstanding performances at the Rutgers Passing Academy and New Level Athletics 7-on-7 National Championships. Irvin-Sills is not the biggest cornerback around -- he stands at just 5-foot-10 and 173 pounds -- but he plays with a lot of discipline. He has the requisite speed and ball skills to be a bona fide playmaker from the cornerback spot.
• Todd Kelly, Knoxville (Tenn.) Webb School: Several of the top defensive backs in the 2014 class, including Blanding, Brown and Georgia's Nick Glass, attended the Top Gun camp in July. It was Kelly who put together the best weekend of the bunch. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound prospect has an ideal combination of size and coverage skills to play the safety at the collegiate level.
• Jourdan Lewis, Detroit Cass Tech: Lewis is already ranked among the top 10 cornerbacks in the country, and the Michigan commit solidified his lofty ranking on big stages over the summer. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound prospect was one of the top defenders at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, and he followed that up by putting together a strong week at The Opening.
• Iman Marshall, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly: California is known for producing elite defensive back prospects, and the emergence of Marshall, a rising sophomore, shows that the state will continue to churn out top-tier defenders in the coming years. Already standing at 6-feet and 175 pounds, Marshall possesses a fluid style, playing with confidence that belies his years. He flashed glimpses of that potential at the SoCal Showcase and the B2G camp in June.
• Leon McQuay III, Seffner (Fla.) Armwood: The 6-foot-2 McQuay is tall for a defensive back, but he shows unusual fluidity for a player of his stature. He can check wide receivers one-on-one or stay back at his natural safety position and man centerfield. Wherever he lines up, McQuay is typically around the ball by play's end. He was consistently dominant at several events this summer, including the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.
• Matt Milano, Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips: While Harris has drawn the most attention at Dr. Phillips, his teammate in the defensive backfield proved he's equally deserving of recognition. Milano was terrific at Michigan State's summer camp. The 6-foot-1, 202-pound Boston College commit has great size for the safety position, but he covers much like a cornerback.
• Keanu Neal, Bushnell (Fla.) South Sumter: Neal barely made it into the Rivals250 when the rankings were last updated in May, securing the final spot on the list. He should be comfortably inside that number when the rankings update is released later this month. The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder delivered his best performance at The Opening, where he was tabbed as one of the top three defensive backs in attendance.
• Jalen Ramsey, Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy: Already ranked as the No. 90 prospect in the country, Ramsey's stock is rising after a series of strong summer performances. His highlight was winning MVP honors at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge 7-on-7 Championship. The 6-foot, 190-pound cornerback was dominant again at The Opening, and he capped his strong summer by committing to USC last month.
• Maurice Smith, Sugar Land (Tex.) Dulles: There has been talk that Smith will move to the safety spot when he arrives at Alabama, but the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder showed that such speculation may be premature. Smith locked down his side of the field at the Texas 7-on-7 Championships in July and then came back a week later and turned in another strong showing at Gridiron Kings.
• Jalen Tabor, Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate: Were he not in the same class, and the same region, as Quin Blanding, Tabor would likely receive publicity as one of the best safety prospects in the last several classes. The combination of the 6-foot, 180-pound Tabor and Blanding on the Northeast squad was arguably the best safety tandem Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in June.
• Kevin Toliver II, Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian: It is difficult for taller cornerbacks to turn their hips and run with wide receivers, but the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Toliver showed no issues keeping pace during LSU's first camp of the summer. That is made all the more impressive considering Toliver just finished his freshman year of high school. He can't sign a letter of intent for another 30 months.
• Damon Webb, Detroit Cass Tech: Originally touted as a wide receiver prospect, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Webb switched to defensive back in the spring. He has seen his recruitment take off since. Webb didn't receive his first offer until June, but he exits the summer with an outpouring of scholarships. LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, West Virginia and Wisconsin have offered following Webb's standout summer outings.
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