Below are the SEC’s top 5 defensive backs heading into next year.
1) Derek Stingley Jr. — LSU
It is no mistake that Stingley Jr. is first on this list, given his ability to lock down an entire side of the field and willingness to fight for the football. Of his 38 tackles in 2019, 31 of them were solo. Stingley Jr. added six interceptions and broke up 15 passes as a freshman.
LSU, also known as “DBU,” has produced the best of defensive backs, and Stingley Jr. is next. He is a playmaker and gamechanger at that. Expect Stingley Jr. to have nothing short of an off the charts type sophomore year in Baton Rouge.
2) Patrick Surtain II — Alabama
Surtain II made his name known in 2019, having panned out to attain the skill set of today’s corner. He is scrappy and wins one on one matchups. Surtain II stands at 6-foot-2, 203 pounds. He is long but also quick to the football.
Like Stingley Jr., Surtain II is a stat stuffer and a lockdown corner. In 2019, he posted 42 tackles, 32 solos, forced three fumbles, had two interceptions, and broke up eight passes. Now a junior, Surtain II will be stepping into a leadership role in the Tide’s secondary.
3) Eric Stokes — Georgia
Of the five on this list, Stokes is the most aggressive. He takes chances but often capitalizes. Under the stewardship of Kirby Smart, Stokes has played beyond his years.
Though he is a bit undersized at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, his physicality makes up for it. Stokes is a monster along the sidelines and a headache for the opposition. Look for him to make an immediate impact in 2020.
4) C.J. Morgan — Mississippi State
A hard-hitting safety that plays like a linebacker, Morgan is a physical freak with speed in the open field. He recorded 59 total tackles, 31 solos, and added an interception and nine pass breakups in 2019. Morgan can be a factor in both the passing and running game. He can time blitzes and disrupt the run. Also able to read the quarterback’s eyes, Morgan can match up with any wideout. His versatility is vital as he will be the face of the Bulldogs defensive backfield.
5) Kaiir Elam — Florida
Elam is a raw talent who took advantage of every opportunity as a freshman. Having showcased his ability in five starts in 2019, Dan Mullen will be sure to insert Elam into a starting role throughout 2020.
But there is room to grow. From a talent perspective, the sky is the limit for Elam. He should gain the necessary experience needed come fall.
For the Bulldogs, Morgan is the modern-day defensive back required to establish an attitude and culture in the secondary. Look for him to do so and have the Bulldogs ready come the season’s start.