Rivals Rankings Week: Breaking down the 2023 DBs

NO. 1 AT THE POSITION: Cormani McClain

McClain retains his spot as the No. 1 corner in the nation and has moved up to the No. 2 player overall in our newest rankings update. At 6-foot-2 with incredible length and a frame to add plenty of additional weight, McClain is a physical specimen in the defensive backfield.

While his size certainly jumps out, it can be argued that McClain’s overall athleticism and body mechanics are more impressive than his NFL prototype frame. Everything he does on the field looks effortless and his coverage ability enables him to take away any opposing team’s top receiving threat.

McClain may be the most college-ready defensive back prospect that I have seen at the high school level in all of my years coaching and scouting. McClain’s recruitment could very well go down to the very end, and it appears to be a three-team race among Florida, Ohio State and Alabama.


TWO TEAMS TO WATCH: Texas A&M and Alabama 

Jayvon Thomas

Jayvon Thomas (

Texas A&M already has two of the nation’s top corner recruits committed in No. 6 Jayvon Thomas and No. 7 Bravion Rogers. Unless Alabama were to land Cormani McClain or Florida were to land both McClain and AJ Harris I cannot picture any team in the nation signing a better duo of corners than the Aggies already have committed. On top of their current commits, College Station remains a likely landing spot for a number of top defensive backs, including No. 2 CB Javien Toviano and No. 5 CB Tony Mitchell. The battle for Mitchell’s commitment could very well come down to the Tide and Aggies, with his pledge determining which of the schools has the top defensive backfield class in 2023.

Similar to Texas A&M with its corners, Alabama already has two of the nation’s top defensive backs committed in No. 4 CB Jahlil Hurley and No. 13 S Elliott Washington. The Tide also remain legit contenders for McClain, Mitchell, No. 2 S Derek Williams, No. 14 CB Makari Vickers and a host of other top defensive backs. You can always bank on Nick Saban‘s prowess for identifying and developing the best defensive backs in the nation, and 2023 looks to be trending in that direction again. But Alabama’s recruiting battles with Texas A&M could go a long way toward determining which school signs the top defensive back class, and it should be extremely entertaining considering the recent feud between Saban and Jimbo Fisher.




THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Christian Gray, Javien Toviano and Amare Snowden 

Gray was one of the biggest movers in the last Rivals250 release, and he has only gotten better since then. The uncommitted corner from St. Louis De Smet continued to make moves in the latest rankings release by jumping another 49 spots to become the nation’s No. 51 player overall. Gray just took his first official visit to LSU and will finish with officials to Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC. While this appears to be a true four-team battle don’t be surprised if Gray ends up with his old high school coach Robert Steeples, who now coaches the secondary at LSU.

Toviano is a special talent who continues to make moves with each rankings release. He is one of four newly minted five-star recruits and comes in as the nation’s No. 2 CB recruit. Toviano has incredible size with athleticism to match, and he will likely be an instant impact player at the next level. What makes him so interesting to watch is how many directions his recruitment could go. While Texas A&M appeared to have a grip on him at one time the number of elite schools in hot pursuit of the five-star leaves a lot up in the air in terms of his recruitment.

Snowden is one to watch because of his incredible frame, intelligence, athletic ability and overall upside. The Rivals Camp Series Indianapolis defensive back MVP is not only a standout player on the gridiron, he is also an incredible baseball player, which is another testament to his overall athletic ability. At a recent baseball game that had MLB scouts in attendance, Snowden threw a 13-strikeout no-hitter as a pitcher to go along with a single, double and home run as a batter. This is important to note because baseball could play a big role in which school he decides to sign with in the end and only four of his top six teams have baseball programs. Snowden remains open, but his recruitment will likely come down to Penn State, Cincinnati and Iowa. Wisconsin will be heavily in the mix if he decides not to play baseball in college.

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