As SI All-American details a deep dive into the college football recruiting class of 2021, by position, the shift to the defensive side of the ball took center stage over the last week.
After sorting through the elite secondary nationally, SIAA released its top 10 at nickel, cornerback and safety ahead of the 2020 season over the weekend. It was the final three of 14 total positions to be ranked this offseason. The tail-end of the discussion featured candidates with the resume to contend for spots in either top 10.
These are the prospects right on the edge of the ranking, or honorable mention, listed alphabetically.
Denzel Burke, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro
6-foot, 190 pounds
Committed to Ohio State
Burke could have easily found himself within our top-10 cornerback rankings due to his cover traits. He has played both receiver and corner effectively in his career, and it appears he’s set to play on the back end at Ohio State. The future Buckeye has quick feet, good COD and redirect ability to go along with oily hips to transition in space, all traits of a good cornerback. Burke has plus speed to stay in phase with receivers vertically, plus his ball skills from his experience as a receiver show up when he challenges catch points. With full-time devotion to playing corner, we expect Burke’s game to blossom in Columbus under defensive coordinator and renowned secondary coach Kerry Coombs.
Kamren Kinchens, Miami (Fla.) Northwestern
5-feet-11, 203 pounds
Committed to Miami
A Miami commit, Kinchens has a compact and tight frame that already weighs close to 205 pounds. Though there may be faster secondary prospects in this class, Kinchens is among the most instinctive and smartest defensive players we’ve seen on tape. He’s an effective on-field communicator who can be spun to the post from the boundary post-snap or align in the post as a classic single-high safety. Kinchens, who had 9 interceptions as a junior, has a good feel for route concepts and combinations, processes information and understands proper angles to assert himself in passing lanes. There’s toughness to him as well, with Kinchens being willing to lend a hand to the front-seven in the box. He should play well in the seams in Coral Gables.
Josh Sosanya, Raleigh (N.C.) Wakefield
6-feet 2-inches, 185 pounds
Committed to Wake Forest
High-cut and long, Sosanya is an interesting safety prospect we like on tape. He spends a good amount of his snaps split to the field and triggers hard downhill on underneath routes. The North Carolina native also has experience blitzing off the edges, showing long speed and closing quickness to chase and finish. Sosanya also appears to be comfortable walking into the box as an extra second-level defender and fitting up the run to challenge runners in C-gaps. Though he can be a bit rigid in the hips, he presents Wake Forest as a physical and versatile defender who can help in the run and pass game.
Hunter Washington, Katy (Texas) High School
5-foot-11, 180 pounds
Committed to Florida State
Scrappy and tough, Washington is a solid corner prospect whom we feel could work well to the field at the next level. He likes to play with bail technique and zone turns, showing solid mental processing and quickness to trigger downhill on the perimeter. A Florida State commit, Washington flashes ability to quickly flip his hips and redirect, and he will challenge runners by squeezing to the edges and finishing with a knife tackle. With his skill set, Washington could also see time inside as a Nickel corner in Tallahassee as well.
Kaine Williams, Marrero (La.) John Ehret
6-foot-2, 205 pounds
Committed to Alabama
Headed to ‘Bama, Williams is a big secondary prospect from Louisiana who works constantly as a split safety on the back end. He has a long frame and can be spun to the underneath robber spot in cover-3 concepts, plus he has a stride that allows him to pick up overs and verts in coverage from slot receivers and tight ends. However, perhaps his best trait is his ability to run the alley and challenge the run from depth. Williams is a hunter in the run game who likes to squeeze the line post-snap and sniff out runners looking to execute chunk runs. It also wouldn’t shock us to see him play some linebacker in Nickel and Dime packages before he leaves Tuscaloosa.
Ceyair Wright, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola
6-foot-1, 175 pounds
Schools of Interest: ASU, Oregon, Stanford, USC, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and more
Wright has solid tape that illustrates a player who can play multiple spots in the secondary thanks to his sub-11.0 100-meter dash speed. He can use his long arms and smooth movement skills to work against big perimeter receivers as a corner, where he’s most comfortable in off-coverage. The Los Angeles native also has plus range and ball skills to align in the seams as a safety and be effective in cover-2, cover-4 and cover-5 concepts from split-shell alignments thanks to his athletic traits. Wherever Wright lands, it wouldn’t shock us to see him play a few different positions within the secondary before he graduates.
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