As we wrap up our series looking into the best DB classes of the past decade of recruiting (2004-2013), today we will look into the defensive secondary. I'm a big fan of the back end, as defensive backs are vital gets in today's recruiting world.
Programs know that they must have four defenders in the secondary on the field who can defend the sophisticated passing attacks today while also being able to help support the defending of the run. Looking at some of these classes, it was a huge coup for a class to have brought a team multiple productive starters.
You can sign a class of multiple defensive backs, but not all of them are going to pan out. Without further delay, here are the top DB recruiting classes of the past decade.
DB Recruits: Jamar Hornsby, Bryan Thomas, Riley Cooper, Jacques Richardson, Markihe Anderson and Wondy Pierre-Louis
Now, I know Cooper became a WR in Gainesville, but he was initially viewed as a safety prospect. Between he, Hornsby (who ended up leaving), Thomas and Rickerson, that gave UF four prospects who were all 4-star players and top 25 recruits at their position.
That's a pretty good DB class, even if it is just on paper.
DB Recruits: Quandre Diggs, Leroy Scott, Josh Turner and Sheroid Evans
Each of the Longhorns' DB signees in 2011 were rated 4-stars by Scout.com. Turner was the best prospect, but Diggs has been the most productive thus far. Evans has excelled on the track as a sprinter and Scott will look to make more of an impact this fall in Austin.
DB Recruits: Taylor Mays, Shareece Wright, CJ Gable, Antwine Perez and Vincent Joseph
This class looks better on paper than it does now in hindsight.
Mays was the biggest name of the group coming into the program, and while he didn't produce as much as hyped, he still was a good player. Perez left after spring practice and Gable was made into a RB.
Wright battled academic issues early in his career, but went on to become one of the best CBs in the then Pac-10. Joseph never made much of an impact.
DB Recruits: Landon Collins, Eddie Williams, Geno Smith, Deion Belue and Travell Dixon
Collins got some time as a true freshman and the coaches have huge hopes for Smith. Williams has been thrown off the team due to off-the-field problems.
Belue made 40 tackles and picked off two passes last year, while Dixon has transferred to Washington.
DB Recruits: Eli Apple, Vonn Bell, Gareon Conley, Cam Burrows, Jayme Thompson and Darron Lee
One day, I wish to see a starting secondary of Apple and Conley at the CB spots with Burrows and Bell as the safeties. However, Burrows can also play CB, and Thompson is not a slouch of a safety, nor is Lee.
Urban Meyer brought in one of the best DB classes in 2013 that I've seen.
DB Recruits: Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy, Valdez Showers, Jabari Gorman and Pop Saunders
Roberson is arguably UF's best current cover CB right now, while Purifoy has shown he can play both CB and S, but he has moved to WR this spring. Florida is counting on Purifoy to play a very versatile role in its offense this fall.
Gorman has an interception and is on the 2-deep and Showers is out to make an impact in his redshirt sophomore year in 2013.
DB Recruits: Matt Elam, Cody Riggs, Josh Shaw, Jonathan Dowling, Jordan Haden, Jaylen Watkins and Robert Clark
Elam was outstanding as a SS for the Gators and probably is going to be a late-first- or second-round pick in a few weeks. Riggs has been steady, making 56 career tackles and picking off a pass so far.
Shaw has since left for USC and started a couple games at CB last year. He figures to be back at safety for the Trojans in 2013 and a team leader.
Watkins has given the Gators over 80 stops and three picks, so he's done more than his fair share of work. Lastly, even though he left, Dowling made 68 tackles and six INTs at Western Kentucky in 2012.
So this class really has produced, even if some of them are no longer Gators.
DB Recruits: Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Commings, Brandon Boykin, Nick Williams, Makiri Pugh
Pugh and Williams both transferred and that's pretty much the only damper on this class.
Rambo, Commings and Boykin all went on to become productive starters for UGA. Boykin is now a solid starter for the Eagles, and Commings and Rambo have had off-field mishaps but played well when they suited up.
Rambo could be as high as a second-round pick in this year's draft.
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 and Cleveland Browns.