The defensive backfield class of 2011 is an impressive one in the SEC. It’s loaded with athletes possessing the ability to play either cornerback or safety.
Look at Malcolm Mitchell. He’s a talented athlete who decided to play for his in-state Georgia Bulldogs. He could be the best defensive back entering the SEC… but he could also be a full-time wide receiver for UGA. That’s where we have him projected to play when he arrives in Athens, which is why you won’t find him on this list.
Here are the top five high school defensive back signees in the SEC in 2011.
1. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix – Alabama
He might be Alabama’s top prospect and top recruiter in this year’s class. Clinton-Dix helped sway his high school teammate Dee Hart to play running back at Bama instead of Michigan. Clinton-Dix (6-2, 195) is an elite athlete with the frame to be a standout safety for Alabama. He has the perfect combination for a safety – the ability to cover the run and pass. Nick Saban will no doubt find a way to use that in his secondary.
2. Jonathan Rose – Auburn
He’s one of those versatile athletes mentioned above with the ability to play cornerback or safety for the Tigers. Rose enrolled at Auburn in January and went through spring practice. So far it’s all cornerback for Rose, who has already earned practice time with the first and second units in Auburn’s secondary. His size (6-1, 180) should allow him to cover the big targets in the SEC.
3. Erique Florence – Auburn
Florence is one reason Rose should be able to stay at cornerback. He is a talented safety who will have an opportunity to help AU this fall. The Tigers are young and inexperienced at the safety position, which will offer opportunities for Florence and other freshmen arriving in the summer. Florence is known as a tough hitter and should help Auburn in run support. If he proves to be strong in pass coverage, too, expect big things from Florence.
4. Marcus Roberson – Florida
His recruitment was a mess, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Roberson can play. He originally committed to Texas Tech and then Auburn before ultimately signing with Florida. Roberson could play cornerback or safety, but corner will likely be his first shot in Gainesville. The Gators should be set up nicely for the future in the defensive backfield. Fellow signee Jabari Gorman is expected to be a nice addition to the safety position as well.
5. Justin Coleman – Tennessee
He wouldn’t have made this list if he hadn’t decided to enroll in spring practice at UT. Coleman impressed during the spring and should earn playing time this fall. Coleman isn’t UT’s highest-rated signee, but he’s a solid player who looks to be a nice fit in the Vols’ defensive backfield. Tennessee was thin in the secondary last year, but depth shouldn’t be an issue going forward. Coleman has already showed he has more potential than several veterans already on Knoxville’s campus.