Posted by Bryan Fischer
Geismar (La.) star Landon Collins is the top defensive back in the nation according to CBS Sports/MaxPreps Recruiting Analyst Tom Lemming but there's a lot of football to be played between now and Signing Day. Here's five other players - in alphabetical order - who you need to keep an eye out for this year. Each of them has a chance to move Collins off the top spot and become the top defensive back for the class of 2012.
Travis Blanks (North Florida Christian, Tallahassee, Fla.)
Weight: 200 pounds
Offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, USF, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt
What's to like: Blanks has good height and projects best at safety but can play nickel corner or on the outside. He can turn his hips very quickly and can overpower smaller receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Needs to work on: Blanks is athletic but we're unsure of the competition he is going against. We'd like to see him against some top flight receivers and see how he does. He needs to get stronger as well.
Jordan Diggs (Bishop Verot High, Fort Meyers, Fla.)
Weight: 195 pounds
Offers from Auburn, Boston College, UConn, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue, South Carolina, USF, Tennessee, UCF, Vanderbilt, West Virginia
What's to like: Diggs certainly looks the part of a Division-I safety with or without the pads. He has a physical upper body and can come in and lay a big hit. He closes on the ball quickly and is quite cerebral on the field, directing teammates to where they need to be. The best part about Diggs is his passion for the game and willingness to learn about the position.
Needs to work on: Diggs still needs to work on his quickness and at times seems a bit stiff in his hips.
Tee Shepard (Central East High, Fresno, Calif.)
Weight: 175 pounds
Committed to Notre Dame
What's to like: Shepard will be a bigger corner at the next level and his length will give opposing receivers issues. He is one of the best in terms of covering a player one-on-one and does a good job of knowing where the ball is at all times. He also has surprisingly good hands for a defensive back.
Needs to work on: Thompson is not one to lay a huge hit on an opponent and real seems to hang out on the outside. He'll pursue players but really won't attack them at the line of scrimmage.
Geno Smith (St. Pius X School, Atlanta, Ga.)
Offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech
What's to like: Smith can turn and run with the best of the wide receivers out there and he sticks to them closely. He plays the ball in the air well and is a surprisingly willing and able tackler. He closes on the ball well and could play early on at the nickel corner spot.
Needs to work on: He needs to get stronger and could also work on his press in Cover-2.
Shaquille Thompson (Grant Union High, Sacramento, Calif.)
Weight: 195 pounds
Offers from Auburn, Cal, Oregon, UCLA, UNLV, USC
What's to like: Thompson is the younger brother of former All-American corner Syd'Quan Thompson and you can tell that the family knows how to play the defensive back position. The younger Thompson is a terrific athlete and one of the better tacklers in this class. He closes extremely quickly and does well when in press coverage as well. He will likely play safety but he as the ability to play corner as well.
Needs to work on: Thompson still needs to beef up a little as he would be a bit thin at safety in college. There are times when he seems a bit unsure of what he's doing and just reacts but playing a single position in college will help him focus on getting better.