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All-Spiegelman team: Top defensive performers in Texas, Louisiana

Billy Bowman
Billy Bowman ( McCuistion)

Football season in the South has come to a close as the Texas large-schools championships put a bow on a very long, daunting, but rewarding few months.

Rivals analyst Sam Spiegelman covered games from Louisiana to Texas and honored the top performances he saw live from September through January. Here’s the All-Spiegelman Team for 2020 on defense.

MORE: All-Spiegelman Offense | Ewers, Sanders stand out at title games | Earle among top performers

DEFENSIVE LINE: Quency Wiggins, Maason Smith, Byron Turner, Shemar Turner, Bear Alexander


Wiggins’ first season on the football field ended with a Louisiana Class 3A title and arguably his best performance of the season. The 6-foot-7, 275-pounder almost single-handedly shut down the nation’s fourth-leading rusher, absorbing double- and even triple-teams and continuing to battle through and make plays. He’s fine-tuning the art of pass-rushing, but his hoops background, length and consistent progress makes for a tremendous ceiling.

Smith trimmed down to under 300 pounds as a senior and dominated the line of scrimmage. The nation’s No. 1 prospect blends rare size for a tackle with a high motor, an arsenal of pass-rush moves and a willingness to take on double- and triple-teams week-to-week. Much of Smith’s work goes unnoticed inside, but he sets up his teammates for success.

Turner, a Florida State signee, turned in a breakout year for St. Augustine (La.). With a reshaped body, Turner lined up at multiple positions up front and exhibited noticeable first-step quickness and provided consistent pressure. He should make an impact sooner rather than later for Florida State.

Turner, a Texas A&M signee, is another defensive line prospect that made strides each of the past three years leading into a dominant senior campaign. He’s position versatile and exceedingly powerful with excellent short-area quickness.

Alexander had a shortened season as he got his feet wet at Denton (Texas) Ryan, but made an immediate impact once he carved out a starting role. He has an impressive motor for a 300-pounder with active hands and a knack for big plays behind the line of scrimmage. Alexander brings a high-octane pass-rush from an interior defensive line role.

LINEBACKER: Harold Perkins, Kendrick Blackshire, Anthony Hill

Perkins wrapped up his second year of varsity football and has been one of the biggest storylines in the Class of 2022. The freakishly athletic linebacker could play an array of positions, but at outside linebacker is capable of rushing the passer and making splash plays with his length, ability to drop back and cover and straight-line speed.

Blackshire missed the entire 2019 season with a leg injury, but returned to form in his final season at Duncanville (Texas). The Alabama signee moves well for his size (6-foot-2, 245 pounds) and is an enforcer against the run. He’s deceptively quick and should be a force once he suits up for the Tide.

Hill (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) was among the top sophomores in the region and played a key role on Class 5A Division I Denton (Texas) Ryan's championship run. Hill plays downhill with rare sideline-to-sideline speed and covered a ton of real estate in the middle of a star-studded defense. Hill is a capable blitzer and brings some high-end athleticism to the middle linebacker position.

DEFENSIVE BACK: Laterrance Welch, Jimmy Wyrick, Sage Ryan, Denver Harris, Javien Toviano

Welch only appeared in two games as a junior, but was the difference for Acadiana (La.) as they repeated as Class 5A championships. Welch is emerging as a true lockdown cornerback and a willing tackler. He came up with the game-winning interception on a two-point try with one minute remaining to seal the victory.

Wyrick is technically sound and didn’t miss a beat for South Oak Cliff (Texas) at cornerback and as a returner. The Stanford signee was disciplined in coverage and dynamic as a punt returner.

Ryan missed the final two games of his prep career, but will go down as one of the best defensive backs to come out of Louisiana in recent memory. The five-star LSU signee did the bulk of his damage on offense as a senior, but somehow made impact plays in limited snaps on defense -- that includes fourth-down tackles, timely sacks and the ability to cover a ton of ground on the back end at safety.

Harris didn’t miss a beat as a junior and enjoyed his best varsity season to date. Texas’ top 2022 cornerback was a ballhawk and continued to position himself well on the field to make plays. Harris is also a physical defender capable of making splash plays against the run.

Toviano put himself on college programs’ radar with a fantastic Week 1 debut covering Ja’Tavion Sanders with a ton of success. The 6-foot, 180-pound sophomore is long with active hands and a good frame for a young cornerback. Toviano has also made a number of plays on the offensive side of the ball and looks to be one of the best in the country for 2023.

ATHLETE: Billy Bowman

Like his teammate Sanders, Bowman has a bright future whether he’s a slot receiver or a defensive back at Oklahoma. Bowman was a catalyst for Denton (Texas) Ryan on offense with his ability to stretch the field vertically, make plays in space or beat defenders around the edge on gadget plays. Bowman is also superb in coverage and has fantastic closing speed.