ESPN’s SEC Insider bloggers Ed Ashoff and Chris Low have taken the time to rank each of the 14 defensive backfields in the mighty SEC. We’ll present their rankings, with a quick explanation as to why each program is positioned where it is.
Then, of course, we’ll do what the “experts” continually fail to: Put the rankings up to a vote, so let us know what you think.
1. Florida Gators – Loucheiz Purifoy is considered one of – if not the – top cover corners in the nation. Marcus Roberson may actually be more skilled at the position, while Brian Poole, Jaylen Watkins and Cody Riggs are all excellent as well.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide – Ha Ha Clinton Dix is primed to break out as the best safety in the nation after Bama lost Dee Milliner to the NFL. Deion Blue, Vinnie Sunseri and Geno Smith (not that Geno Smith) are all ready to continue rollin’ for the Tide.
3. Vanderbilt Commodores – Familiarize yourselves with Andre Hal, another top cover corner in a conference full of them. Kenny Ladler and Javon Marshall are ready to lay the hammer as big-time tackling safeties.
4. LSU Tigers – Coach Les Miles lost a ton of talent at the position, but what else is new in Baton Rouge? Jalen Mills, Jalen Collins and safety Craig Loston will lead the way for another talented batch of DBs that includes freakishly athletic freshman Jeryl Brazil.
5. Ole Miss Rebels – Look for senior Charles Sawyer against your favorite team’s best wide receiver. He is the steady hand of a group that also includes elite frosh Antonio Connor, who will be splitting time between safety and linebacker.
6. Texas A&M Aggies – Deshazor Everett picked off AJ McCarron in the end zone to help A&M beat Bama last year, but he and starting safety Floyd Raven are both facing legal troubles right now. If these two are ruled out, the Ags’ ranking drops in a hurry.
7. South Carolina Gamecocks – Losing DJ Swearinger hurt, but junior Victor Hampton is primed to make a big statement this season.
8. Georgia Bulldogs – It won’t be easy replacing Bacarri Rambo, but true frosh Tray Matthews is getting ready to do exactly that. A lot is going to be expected of Damian Swann at corner, as well as Josh Harvey-Clemons at safety.
9. Mississippi State Bulldogs – Johnthan Banks won the Jim Thorpe Award, but he’s long gone. So are Darius Slay and Corey Broomfield. Jamerson Love should be loving (get it??) the chance to be the No. 1 corner and safeties Nickoe Whitley and Jay Hughes are both solid contributors.
10. Auburn Tigers – Safeties Demetruce McNeal and Jermaine Whitehead were the Tigers’ leading tacklers in 2012, and both are returning. Could this unit surprise in 2013?
11. Mizzou Tigers – Senior EJ Gaines is a star, but who is going to support him? Randy Ponder has five starts under his belt and should start, but they are the only two returners to have recorded a career interception.
12. Tennessee Volunteers – Brian Randolph has to prove he is fully recovered from an ACL tear, but he should be starting alongside Byron Moore at safety. JUCO transfer Riyahd Jones could be the key at corner.
13. Arkansas Razorbacks – Experience isn’t always a good thing. Corners Tevin Mitchel and Will Hines and safeties Eric Bennett and Rohan Gaines all return, but all have to improve upon the SEC’s worst pass defense in 2012.
14. Kentucky Wildcats – Safety Ashley Lowery is the only real playmaker in the secondary, but he is still recovering from a horrific car accident. Zack Blaylock, J.D. Harmon, Cody Quinn, and Fred Tiller all have to step up.
Take a moment and let us know what you think!