By MaxPreps' Stephen Spiewak
It's a great year for talent across the board according to Tom Lemming, and defensive backs are no exception.
Leading the way is one of the best prospects from Southern California in recent years, Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, Calif.) safety Su'a Cravens.
Cravens is a punishing presence in the secondary. He took home area Player of the Year honors and was an overall first team U.S. Air Force All-American after intercepting three passes and totaling 11 sacks.
Lemming loves the versatility that the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Cravens brings to the field.
"He can drop back into passing lanes with ease, but he can hammer people, too," he said. "He could play strong safety or linebacker. It's just a matter of how big he gets."
Vista Murrieta head coach Coley Candaele agrees.
"Su'a can do anything," said Candaele, who guided Vista Murrieta to an undefeated season on the field (forfeit losses marred the schedule). "He's a kid that wants to be successful. He wants to be the best he can be. He can be easily motivated and pushed when he needs to be better."
Cravens also shined on offense, playing both running back and wide receiver.
The nation's No. 2 defensive back is another two-way threat, South Panola (Batesville, Miss.) sensation Antonio Connor. Connor is a gifted athlete who has started for South Panola since his freshman year. He spent time behind center last year, but his future is clearly in the defensive backfield.
Tray Matthews is another accomplished safety and represents Lemming's No. 3 defensive back. The Georgia commit made 74 tackles and two interceptions last season after pledging to the Bulldogs in August. He's been trying to lure his friend Reuben Foster to Athens to improve what is already a fine recruiting crop for Georgia.
Florida's top defensive back, Leon McQuay III, is next on Lemming's list at No. 28 overall. McQuay has been a mainstay in the imposing Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) defense. As a junior, he intercepted three passes and deflected nine others, helping Armwood finish undefeated with a Florida Class 6A state title.
With help from his father, McQuay has been savvy in handling the recruiting process, taking a number of trips and evaluating his options. It will be hard to pluck him from the Sunshine State, with Florida appearing to be the favorite.
The nation's top cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves III, is the nation's No. 5 defensive back, one spot behind McQuay in the overall rankings. Hargreaves' father is on the coaching staff at USF, so the Bulls are in the mix for the nation's No. 29 recruit. However, his offer sheet is robust, and his recruitment will be extremely competitive.
"He's one of those kids that is a sponge," Douglass said. "Whatever you tell him, he's going to do. He'll be the guy running outside when everyone else is inside."
Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) defensive back Kendall Fullerfollows Burrows. The 6-foot, 180-pound Fuller was somewhat overshadowed last season by teammate Stefon Diggs, but is quickly emerging into an elite recruit in his own right.
Virginia Tech where Fuller's brothers went, has the inside track. But don't rule out Clemson or Michigan.
Another Florida defensive back also made the cut: Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.) safety Marcell Harris, a transfer from South Lake. Harris did it all from the safety spot, forcing four fumbles, swiping three interceptions and blocking five kicks.
Antwuan Davis and Priest Willis round out the group.