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August 8, 2012
Summer Standouts: Defensive backs
The summer camps have wound down and the Rivals.com recruiting analysts were all over the country, scouting hundreds of prospects. Over the next week, Rivals.com is releasing our Summer Standouts list, position-by-position. Here is our list of defensive backs.
Note: This does not reflect a guaranteed move up in our next set of rankings. Many players listed had excellent summers but also proved we had them ranked in the correct range in our previous rankings. These are in alphabetical order.
Quin Blanding, Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside (2014): There may not have been a better safety on the camp circuit all summer, regardless of class, than the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Blanding. Starting with the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in June, Blanding dominated everywhere he went on a schedule that also included the New Level Athletics 7-on-7 National Championship, Top Gun and Gridiron Kings.
Keelon Brookins, Oakdale (Minn.) Tartan: Brookins lost all but a few quarters of his junior season to a knee injury. He did appear at the Army Junior Combine in January and fared well but was not yet 100 percent. By the time Brookins showed up at the Illinois NIKE Camp in June he was not only 100 percent, but bigger and faster than we have seen him. The 6-foot, 185-pound prospect took home Defensive Back MVP honors at the event.
Tony Brown, Beaumont (Tex.) Ozen (2014): Like Blanding, Brown proved he could not only compete, but excel against class of 2013 prospects at events such as the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge, Top Gun and Gridiron Kings. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Brown has the size of a safety but appears to be better suited to play the cornerback position in college.
Hatari Byrd, Fresno (Calif.) Central East: The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Byrd is already ranked among the nation's top 250 prospects, so there my not be a lot of upward mobility for him, but Byrd had a consistently solid summer. He was ranked among the top 10 defensive backs at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge and had another top performance at Gridiron Kings before closing out the month of July with a commitment to Oklahoma.
Kendall Fuller, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel: As the nation's No. 3 ranked prospect overall, there is not much room for Fuller to move up. The five-star prospect did not hide behind his lofty rating this summer, however. He attended the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, The Opening and Gridiron Kings, landing among the top performers at each of those events. He finished his summer by announcing a commitment to Virginia Tech.
Vernon Hargreaves III, Tampa (Fla.) Wharton: If there is a cornerback who will give Fuller a run for the No. 1 spot at the position, most feel Hargreaves is the guy. The Florida commitment has played a lot of safety in his career, but at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds is projected to play on the corner in college. Hargreaves was dominant in appearances at the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships and Gridiron Kings.
Marcell Harris, Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips: Harris took some flak for dropping potential interceptions at several events this summer, but the fact is his trouble catching the football would not have surfaced if he was not in position to make so many plays. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound safety has great instincts for the position and closes down passing lanes in a hurry. He just needs work on finishing.
Jahmere Irvin-Sills, Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy: The Auburn commit turned in two outstanding performances this summer at the Rutgers Passing Academy in June and the New Level Athletics 7-on-7 National Championships in early July. Irvin-Sills is not the biggest cornerback around at 5-foot-10, 173 pounds, but he plays with a lot of discipline and has the speed and ball skills to be a playmaker from the cornerback spot.
Todd Kelly, Knoxville (Tenn.) Webb School (2014): Several of the top defensive backs in the 2014 class, including Blanding, Brown and Georgia's Nick Glass, attended the Top Gun camp in July, but it was Kelly who put together the best weekend of the group. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound prospect has an ideal combination of size and coverage skills to play the safety position at the college level.
Jourdan Lewis, Detroit Cass Tech: Lewis is already ranked among the top 10 cornerbacks in the country so he does not have a lot of room to move up in the rankings, but the Michigan commit proved his lofty ranking on big stages this summer. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound prospect was one of the top defenders at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge and put together a strong week at The Opening.
Iman Marshall, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly (2015): California is known for producing defensive back prospects, and the play of Marshall this summer shows the state will continue to kick out elite defenders in the coming years. Already 6-foot and 175 pounds, Marshall has a fluid style and plays with confidence that belies his years. He showcased those talents at the SoCal Showcase and the B2G camp in June.
Leon McQuay III, Seffner (Fla.) Armwood: The 6-foot-2 McQuay is tall for a defensive back, but he shows unusual fluidity for a player of his stature. He can check wide receivers one-on-one or stay back at his natural safety position and man centerfield. Wherever he lines up, McQuay usually can be found around the football by play's end. He was consistently dominant at several events this summer, including the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.
Matt Milano, Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips: While Marcell Harris has drawn most of the attention at Dr. Phillips, his teammate in the defensive backfield proved he's deserving of more recognition when we saw him at Michigan State's summer camp. The 6-foot-1, 202-pound Boston College commit has great size for the safety position, but he covers like a cornerback.
Keanu Neal, Bushnell (Fla.) South Sumter: Neal barely made it into the Rivals250 when the rankings were last updated in May, landing the final spot on the list. He should be comfortably inside that number when the next rankings update is released later this month. The 6-foot-1, 203-pound Neal's standout summer performance came at The Opening, where he was tabbed as one of the top three defensive backs at the event.
Jalen Ramsey, Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy: Already ranked as the No. 90 prospect in the country, Ramsey's stock is rising after a series of strong performances this summer. The highlight was winning MVP honors at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge 7-on-7 Championship. The 6-foot, 190-pound cornerback was dominant again at The Opening and capped his strong summer by committing to USC last month.
Maurice Smith, Sugar Land (Tex.) Dulles: There has been talk that Smith will move to the safety spot when he arrives at Alabama, but the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder showed that talk may be premature with his performance at a couple events this summer. Smith locked down his side of the field at the Texas 7-on-7 Championships in July, then came back a week later and had another strong showing at Gridiron Kings.
Jalen Tabor, Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate (2014): Were he not in the same class, and same region, as Quin Blanding, Tabor would be getting all the publicity as one of the best safety prospects to come around in the last several classes. The combination of the 6-foot, 180-pound Tabor and Blanding on the Northeast squad was arguably the best safety tandem Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in June.
Kevin Toliver II, Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian (2015): It is more difficult for taller cornerbacks to flip their hips and run with wide receivers than their shorter counterparts, but the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Toliver showed no issues in that area at LSU's first camp of the summer. That is made all the more impressive considering Toliver just finished his freshman year of high school and cannot sign a letter of intent for another 30 months.
Damon Webb, Detroit Cass Tech (2014): Known originally as a wide receiver prospect, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Webb switched to defensive back in the spring and has seen his recruitment take off. He did not receive his first scholarship offer until June but will exit the summer with tenders from the likes of LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, West Virginia and Wisconsin after several strong summer camp performances.