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Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Top position classes: DB

By Gerry Hamilton

With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)

The top class of defensive backs goes to Alabama, by a landslide. While the Crimson Tide have provided many recruiting firsts in recent years under coach Nick Saban, the 2014 class is the first to have two five-star cornerbacks in the same cycle in the years ESPN has been assigning star rankings. No. 8 overall Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and No. 15 Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover) have the size and speed that Saban and his staff made a must in 2014. Add in No. 3 safety and No. 27 overall Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) and Alabama signed three of the very best at defensive back. Factor in that No. 7 athlete Ronnie Clark (Calera, Ala./Calera) seems destined to begin his career at safety and the Crimson Tide dominate in the secondary despite having missed out on coveted safety target C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian).

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best defensive back class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:

Virginia might not have signed a big class of defensive backs, but the Cavaliers signed the No. 1-ranked safety and instant impact player Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside). The five-star Blanding teams with three-star corner Darious Latimore (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnet) and Jeff Farrar (Upland, Calif./Upland) to form the conference’s top group.

Big 12
As is the case annually, the Longhorns have signed an impressive group of defensive backs. In 2014, the Longhorns went outside the state line to sign ESPN 300 No. 250 Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), who is undersized but has natural cover skills and finishing ball skills. At safety, coach Charlie Strong held onto four-star safety John Bonney (Houston/Lamar), who is born leader with a high football IQ. A second safety, three-star Jason Hall (Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie), brings size and range. ESPN 300 wide receiver Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City) could potentially get a look at corner.

Big Ten
Ohio State addressed many future needs in the 2014 cycle, and that includes the defensive backfield. The Buckeyes signed three prospects in the class, with all three having the ability to play cornerback. ESPN 300 No. 45 Marshon Lattimore (Cleveland/Glenville) is the nation’s No. 5 athlete but is slated to begin his career at corner. Joining Lattimore is No. 58 overall Damon Webb (Detroit, Mich./Cass Technical) and No. 183 Erick Smith (Cleveland/Glenville), who could play safety or get a look at corner. A second ESPN 300 athlete, Curtis Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus Hall), could play safety as well.

We went with Oregon over USC here with the questions surrounding which side of the ball John Smith and Adoree' Jackson will potentially play for the Trojans. The Ducks not only signed the No. 6 corner and No. 47 overall player Arrion Springs (San Antonio, Texas/Theodore Roosevelt), but they also signed No. 194-ranked Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian), the No. 13-ranked safety. Add in three-star safeties Glen Ihenacho (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) and Khalil Oliver (Meridian, Idaho/Rocky Mountain) and Oregon signed a talented quartet of defensive backs. High three-star athlete Charles Nelson (Daytona Beach, Fla./Seabreeze) also could get a look at defensive back.