ZION BRANCH AT USC
Among the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles, all-time players at USC are often remembered for their abilities on offense and not on defense. But the Trojans have a storied history of amazing defenders, especially at safety, and Zion Branch fits the hard-nosed mold set over the decades.
Ronnie Lott, Taylor Mays, Mark Carrier, Troy Polamalu … USC has a wealth of tone setters that have roamed the Coliseum, and Branch has all the tools to be the next great one. Taking on one of the toughest schedules in the country, Branch was the enforcer for a Bishop Gorman (12-1) defense that held the opposition to an average of 7.69 points per contest. – Ryan Wright, National Recruiting Analyst
TORIANO PRIDE AT CLEMSON
Will Johnson to Michigan is an obvious choice here, but I am going to step out of the box and go with Toriano Pride at Clemson. Despite the Tigers having a down year by their standards, the defense was still impressive as it finished No. 2 in points surrendered per game. With both of Clemson’s starting corners headed to the NFL Draft, Pride is walking into a situation where he will not only compete for a starting spot as a freshman but is coming in to fill a major position of need for a defensive staff in transition.
From his size and skill set to his intangibles, Pride has all of the tools to be a special player for the Tigers. – Clint Cosgrove, National Recruiting Analyst
JEADYN LUKUS AT CLEMSON
Clemson has put defensive backs like Trayvon Mullen and AJ Terrell into the NFL in recent years, and Jeadyn Lukus is in a similar mold. The 6-foot-2 cornerback is an elite athlete with great range who plays with a physical style. He really is a huge cornerback and just how rangy he is was on full display during the Under Armour All-America Game, when he made a spectacular leaping interception. There are a number of talented cornerbacks on Clemson’s roster right now, but very few of them have the overall athleticism that Lukus brings to the table. – Adam Friedman, National Recruiting Analyst
JAHEIM SINGLETARY AT GEORGIA
When Singletary was committed to Ohio State early in his recruitment it was a good fit for how the Buckeyes play defense, but once he went to Georgia it made even more sense. The Bulldogs are an aggressive, attacking defense that doesn’t back down to anybody and that’s how Singletary plays the position. He has good length, he goes after receivers, he competes for the ball in the air and the Jacksonville (Fla.) Riverside standout loves to prove he’s a shutdown cornerback on every play. That type of alpha personality will fit perfectly in Athens. – Adam Gorney, National Director of Recruiting
DENVER HARRIS AT TEXAS A&M
Jimbo Fisher is fitting talented pieces into key spots in hopes of making a run at an SEC crown this fall. Over the past two years, Texas A&M has fortified so many aspects of the roster and now adds another quality defensive back to pair opposite former five-star Jaylon Jones.
Harris helped Galena Park (Texas) North Shore capture another state title and was absolutely brilliant since returning from offseason surgery. Harris is sharp in coverage and a ballhawk, and he is a major asset defending the run as well. If Texas A&M makes a run don’t be shocked to see Harris contribute along the way. – Sam Spiegelman, National Recruiting Analyst