Power Ranking Top 10 Defensive Recruits of the 2014 Class
We've already took an early look at the top 10 offensive recruits for the 2014 class, so you have to had already known what was next. Yes, you guessed it, the top 10 punters, kickers and long snappers in the 2014 class.
No, I'm kidding.
This read will flip sides of the ball and check out the early top 10 defensive studs in the 2014 class. In recruiting over the past several years, the caliber of defensive recruits has become outstanding, especially at the top of the past few boards. Could this year be another cycle dominated by defensive recruits?
That remains to be seen since we're still getting more familiar with this new group. Yet, I've already identified 10 prospects early on who appear to be defensive standouts.
Here they are.
10. Laurence Jones, S
Jones is a 6'2", 200-pound safety that plays in Louisiana. He's got solid instincts, but of course the initial trait you notice is his appearance on the hoof.
He's a bigger DB that can run on the back end with speed, has good athletic ability and can squeeze vs. the run. He's the 2014 version of Landon Collins and is already highly coveted.
247Sports lists Alabama, LSU and Ohio State as his standout choices.
9. Lorenzo Featherston, DE
The Tar Heel state is no stranger to producing good DE prospects, including Quinton Coples & Donte Paige-Moss of late.
This year, North Carolina is home to Featherston, the 6'7", 215-pound pass-rusher from Greensboro. Featherston has the frame of a Dion Jordan and can fly off the ball at the snap.
He has the length to stay clean from power blockers, which gives him added space to continue his fight to pressure. Featherston has good quickness to finish and I expect him to land at NC State.
8. John "JuJu" Smith, S
Smith also could get looked at as a WR prospect, but safety may be where he fits best long-term. An incredible athlete, this 6'1", 200-pounder plays at national talent factory Long Beach Poly in Southern California.
Smith has an impressive frame, can light up ball carriers while also patrolling with range in the deep middle. Whether you stick him as a SS or a FS, Smith can play both roles equally and effectively.
Look for him to wind up in the Pac-12.
7. Raekwon McMillan, LB
From Georgia, McMillan is a 6'3" 'backer that is pushing 240 right now. He can fit in as a LB while also working at the DE position a little bit too.
With his versatility, 3-4 teams can plug him inside or on the edges, while 4-3 times could ask him to play the Mike or on the flanks. 247Sports lists Georgia, Clemson and Ohio State as his favorites.
6. Quin Blanding, S
Blanding goes to Bayside in Virginia, but it remains to be seen if he 6'2" safety is a fan of Saved By the Bell. Weighing 200 pounds, Blanding has great length and if he sees a ball in the air, he basically turns into a WR.
Blanding has 15 career interceptions already and I think he will enter his senior season with the rep of a dangerous ball hawk around Virginia. The Wahoos could be the team to beat for Blanding right now.
5. Marlon Humphrey, CB
Humphrey is a CB prospect that is about 6'0" and weighs just under 180 pounds. He has excellent speed to carry receivers deep into the third level and good length to press.
Humphrey is also impressive due to his ability to latch onto his man and shows great short area closing quickness. He could be a future No. 1 CB for a collegiate defense.
He's from Alabama and probably will go to Alabama.
4. Andrew Brown, DT
Brown is a 6'4", 282-pound DT that sometimes is a man amongst boys in the trenches. With his ability to jump on top of interior OLs, Brown fires out, can flat-back at the point and shows some power.
He'll slip a gap when he quickly reads a play and can get in the backfield in a flash. He has the versatility to also maybe become a 5-technique in a 30-front.
Brown recently told Rivals.com that he has a top 10 and is looking to visit Florida, Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State this summer.
3. Hoza Scott, OLB
Scott is already committed to Texas A&M, where he'll one day be one of the best defensive players on the team. The 6'2", 220-pounder has the tools to be a stud SEC OLB.
With his range, Scott can sift through traffic and chase ball carriers like a cheetah. He also can stunt blocks head on, shed and free himself up vs. direct runs.
Scott also is an effective third down player, showing a little pass rush ability too.
2. Lorenzo Carter, DE
Carter is a DE right now, but there's a chance he opts to play in a 30-front scheme so he gets made into a stand up/rush end OLB.
He's a 6'6", 232-pound edge defender that has big-time athleticism and quickness. He can press blocks to set the edge, shed and make a stop vs. the run.
As a pass-rusher, he has great snap quickness and coverts speed to power easily. He's from Georgia, but keep an eye on Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
1. Da'Shawn Hand, DE
Hand has 162 tackles and 37 sacks over the past two seasons. He's a 6'5" DE that weighs close to 250 pounds and is out of Virginia.
Right now, Hand is not only the consensus top defensive prospect for 2014, he also the consensus top overall prospect too. He's a great combination of speed, quickness, power and strength.
Hand can stand up and attack the pocket from the edges, put his hand down and anchor vs. the run and also take advantage of guards and as an interior pass-rusher on third downs.
247Sports says his top five are Florida, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.