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Five thoughts on the 2023 defensive back class

Cormani McClain
Cormani McClain (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

High school seasons are halfway done or more, so this is a good time to take a look at some things happening across the country. Today, Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney gives five thoughts on the 2023 defensive backs.


THIS SERIES: Five thoughts on the 2023 QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OL | DEs | DTs | LBs

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CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals100

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TOP TWO CORNERBACKS UNCOMMITTED

The top two cornerbacks in the 2023 class remain uncommitted and both could end up in the SEC. Big surprise there.

Five-star cornerback Cormani McClain from Lakeland, Fla., has Florida and Alabama at the top with Miami also involved in his recruitment. But this looks like it will come down to the Gators or the Crimson Tide.

Arlington (Texas) Martin five-star cornerback Javien Toviano is believed to have LSU way out ahead but he’s also tight-lipped about where things stand in his recruitment as Texas A&M and other in-state programs are trying to stay involved, too.

If McClain and Toviano both pick SEC teams, then 80 percent of the top 10 corners in the 2023 class would be committed to programs in that conference. An amazing run for the SEC.

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TWO FIVE-STAR SAFETIES POSSIBLE

Caleb Downs
Caleb Downs (Rivals.com)

There are currently no five-star safeties in the 2023 class but there is a decent chance that’s going to change.

Caleb Downs and Peyton Bowen are just too good to ignore. Downs, from Hoschton (Ga.) Mill Creek, is committed to Alabama and has just been phenomenal this season making plays, diagnosing things from the secondary and coming up for tackles and looking like the next big thing in the Crimson Tide’s defense.

Bowen has been phenomenal as well. The Denton (Texas) Guyer standout who is committed to Notre Dame but is being pursued by Texas A&M and Oklahoma is a phenomenal player in the back end, picks passes off and is just so smart.

There could be others in the discussion but to my eye, Downs and Bowen have separated themselves from the pack.

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VERY DEEP GROUP OF CORNERS

Conrad Hussey
Conrad Hussey (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

There are going to be significant changes at the cornerback spot after reviewing senior film and especially after seeing many of these top players at all-star events but when Ohio State commit Jermaine Matthews is No. 34 at the position or Arkansas commits RJ Johnson and Dallas Young are closer to 60 then this is an incredibly deep class of cornerbacks.

There is at least one player at the position that’s relatively high in the rankings that will be moving down but a lot of others moving up. Tennessee commit Cristian Conyer at No. 40, Penn State pledge Conrad Hussey at No. 32 and Georgia commit Daniel Harris at No. 29 feel all too low.

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WATCH FOR FLIPS

Malik Muhammad
Malik Muhammad (Rivals.com)

It’s inevitable that there are going to be plenty of committed prospects changing their minds in the coming months especially closer to the Early Signing Period which will include coaching changes across the country.

There are plenty of defensive backs who will be watched closely including Texas commit Malik Muhammad (who especially has Alabama and Texas A&M after him), Florida pledge Sharif Denson (Alabama is trying to flip), LSU commit Daylen Austin, who has been taking numerous visits to Pac-12 programs, Florida commit Jakeem Jackson (who visits Kentucky this weekend), Texas pledge Derek Williams, who has LSU and Alabama pursuing hard, and of course Bowen, which was mentioned above.

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WHAT WILL ISAAC SMITH DO?

Nine of the top 10 safeties in the 2023 class are committed. The lone exception being four-star Isaac Smith from Fulton (Miss.) Itawamba Agricultural and his recruitment could still take many different twists and turns.

Smith has visited Ole Miss and Mississippi State as the feeling is if he stays in-state it could be in Starkville but the Rebels have also made an impression. LSU has been the dream school and if the Tigers really make a move on him it could be hard for him to say no. There is also some serious talk around Texas A&M and that is worth watching.

Vanderbilt is also a serious consideration. From the academics to the opportunity to play early, Smith could be enticed by that opportunity.