CB Jourdan Lewis, Michigan
Starting over junior Blake Countess in the spring game, Jourdan Lewis did not wait long to make his presence known—and make Michigan fans squirm about their quarterback position in 2014—by picking off Devin Gardner on the first pass of the game.
It was one of two interceptions Lewis had on the afternoon, as his physical, aggressive presence in coverage was an improvement on what UM corners struggled to do last season.
This was a great jump on his bid to start Week 1.
CB/S Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
Remember this guy's name.
As a true freshman last season, Jalen Ramsey became the first player his age since Deion Sanders to start at cornerback in Week 1 at Florida State. He played well but moved to safety when injuries demanded he change positions—and he played well there as well.
Now, Ramsey is playing some weird sort of hybrid role, bouncing around the field at seemingly every spot in the secondary.
The early results were good, however, as he led the Florida State defense to an impressive spring game performance and picked off Jameis Winston on what might be the best play of the young season.
Ramsey looks like a nice Thorpe Award dark horse.
S Tyvis Powell, Ohio State
Tyvis Powell is accepting this award on proxy, on behalf of the entire Ohio State secondary—or, perhaps, on the behalf of new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash.
The Buckeyes defensive backs looked like a unit revived in the spring game, coming back strong from their awful end to last season with a whole new cast of characters. Braxton Miller was absent, sure, but the way this group shut down big plays could not be ignored.
Powell was at the vanguard of that effort, playing smart, sound football and stepping up as the emotional leader of this group. We'll know more when the real games start, but so far, so good.
CB Randall Evans, Kansas State
Randall Evans has been a steady, consistent nickelback throughout his career at Kansas State, starting 11 games in 2013 and seven in the Big 12 Championship season of 2012.
Now, however, he has a chance to go from steady contributor to leader in the secondary. If his performance in the spring game was any indication, Evans is ready to do so.
Evans was everywhere for the Wildcats, leading the team with eight tackles, three tackles for loss and a fumble forced and recovered (on the same play).
With an offense that returns Jake Waters and Tyler Lockett and got better as the season went on in 2013, Kansas State could be a contender in the Big 12 if Evans and defensive end Ryan Mueller get the defense playing at a higher level than last year.
This was a promising start.