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Rivals Rankings Week: Breaking down the 2023 DBs

Cormani McClain
Cormani McClain (

The updated 2023 Rivals250 is out this week and today we take a look across the defensive positions. In focus here are the defensive backs as we break down the top-rated player at the position, two teams to watch and three other names to watch as the offseason continues.

NEW 2023 RANKINGS: Safety | Cornerback | Outside LB | Inside LB | Strongside DE | Weakside DE | Defensive tackle | Center | Offensive guard | Offensive tackle | All-purpose RB | Running back | Pro-style QB | Dual-threat QB



Previews: Who should be No. 1? | Which QB should be next to receive a fifth star? | Can Nico Iamaleava unseat Arch Manning as No. 1 QB? | Who is the best defensive lineman?

Monday: Five-Star Countdown | Meet the new five-stars

Tuesday: New Rivals250 released | Gorney's thoughts | Biggest movers | Thoughts on M'Pemba, Tate, Haynes

Wednesday: Offensive position rankings released | Five schools that should be pleased | Breaking down the QB rankings | Breaking down the RB rankings | Breaking down the WR/TE rankings | Breaking down the OL rankings

Thursday: Defensive position rankings released | Breaking down the DL rankings | Breaking down the LB rankings

Friday: State rankings released

Saturday: Rival Views

Sunday: Who will move up most in the next Rivals250?



No. 1 player at the position: Cormani McClain 

Cormani McClain has a phenomenal combination of size, skill, athleticism and coverage ability to go with a killer instinct that every successful defensive back needs. At 6-foot-2, he has the size of a safety and the coverage ability of a smaller lockdown corner. McClain is special enough to literally blanket just about any team's No. 1 receiver and make that player a non-factor in an offensive game plan. I have been evaluating high school defensive backs for a long time, and McClain may be the best I have seen in person.

McClain released a top five of Alabama, Florida, BYU, Ohio State and Miami in November, but that has proven to be a fluid list as McClain has considered a number of other schools as finalists since. In addition to his original top five, look for USC, Michigan, Florida State and Georgia to also be players in the five-star's recruitment.


Two teams to watch: Notre Dame and Georgia 

Justyn Rhett
Justyn Rhett

New Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman is in position to land a special DB class. The Fighting Irish already have the No. 7 corner in Justyn Rhett committed as well as the No. 6 safety in Peyton Bowen. Notre Dame also finds itself in good position with four-star corner Christian Gray out of Missouri and the No. 3 athlete in Dalton Brooks, who could very well end up playing in the secondary.

Georgia already has commitments from Rivals250 cornerbacks Marcus Washington and Kayin Lee, which is quite the feat this early in the process. While the Bulldogs do not have any commitments at safety right now, they find themselves at the top of the list for the nation's No. 1 safety, Caleb Downs, as well as Rivals250 athlete Joenel Aguero, who many project as a safety at the next level.




Three players to watch:  AJ Harris, Malik Muhammad, Christian Gray

AJ Harris can get lost in the discussion of top corner prospects but this is a player with an incredible skill set who should be mentioned in the same conversation as other No. 1 players. Harris is dynamic and could play a number of positions, but his future looks to be as a lockdown corner at the next level. Harris has over 30 offers, and Alabama, Georgia, Clemson and Ohio State look to be leading the way for his pledge.

Malik Muhammad is our No. 9 cornerback, but this kid has a chance to be special and improve his ranking as we move forward. Muhammad can do it all and combines elite coverage ability with incredible speed and he is extremely physical to boot. The Dallas native has more than 40 offers. Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Ohio State and Alabama, among others, stand out early in his recruitment.

Christian Gray is a player that has developed a ton over the past year, and with a 66-spot jump became one of the biggest risers in the new Rivals250. Gray is long, instinctive and deceptively athletic. Ohio State, Notre Dame, LSU and USC are some of the teams that lead the way in his recruitment. LSU is one to watch as his former high school coach and mentor, Robert Steeples, left the Minnesota Vikings to join the Tigers' staff when Brian Kelly was hired.