WildcatAuthority.com continues its look at the Pac-12 by rankings the defensive backs. Which team is the best? Which will be counting on freshmen?
: The Ducks have plenty of depth and talent here, as Cliff Harris
and Anthony Gildon
will start at corner.
Eddie Pleasant has done well with a move from linebacker to become a solid strong safety and John Boyett is poised for a big season at free safety.
Troy Hill, Terrance Mitchell, and Dior Mathis add tons of depth at corner with Erick Dargan and Brian Jackson ready to make an impact as well.
2. UCLA: The Bruins return three out of four starters, with Rahim Moore being a big loss. Tony Dye will go from strong safety to free safety to cover up for this loss and allow Dietrich Riley to be on the field as much as possible.
Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price are the starters at corner, but it would not be a surprise to see one overtaken at some point.
Keep an eye on Anthony Jefferson, who has played well this spring.
3. Arizona: The Wildcats certainly have strength in the defensive backfield, even with the loss of Adam Hall.
Robert Golden and Marquis Flowers will hold the safety spots down, while Trevin Wade will look to improve at one of the corner positions.
Arizona has youth, but a ton of depth and should be one of the better units in the conference.
4. Stanford: Delano Howell is returning at strong safety and could be a contender for an All-American position.
Michael Thomas returns at free safety and there seems to be no weaknesses in that regard.
At corner, senior Johnson Bademosi and sophomore Barry Browning will be the likely starters, with incoming freshmen being a possibility to play as well.
5. Oregon State: The Beavers will be solid here, due in large part to returning players at safety and corner.
Lance Mitchell and Anthony Watkins will start at safety, with the coaching staff feeling Mitchell can be an elite guy in the conference.
Brandon Hardin will start at one corner spot with Jordan Poyer on the other side. Keep an eye on Rashaad Reynolds as well, as he continues to push for playing time.
6. Arizona State: The Sun Devils are battling depth issues, as Deveron Carr sat out much of the spring due to shoulder surgery and Omar Bolden tore his ACL.
Carr is likely to have one starting spot and Osahon Irabor and redshirt freshman Devan Spann will battle for the other.
Eddie Elder and junior Keelan Johnson are also battling shoulder injuries, but senior Clint Floyd and sophomore Alden Darby have filled in nicely.
7. Washington: Safety Nate Williams is the only starter from the secondary that is gone this season, although it is a big loss.
Nate Fellner is a lock at free safety and Sean Parker is a guy to keep an eye on for the other safety spot.
Desmond Trufant will return at cornerback, as he has started 22 games. Quinton Richardson will get the other starting spot, but after that there is major concerns about depth at corner.
8. USC: The Trojans had a terrible secondary last year and the hope is that there is major improvement this season.
Free safety T.J. McDonald is a stud and will once again be the best player in the secondary. Marshall Jones will get the start at the other safety spot in hopes of finally reaching his five-star potential.
Sophomore Nickell Robey started last season and he will be a constant again. Tony Burnett and Torin Harris are battling for the other spot, but neither has emerged as a potential star.
9. California: Chris Conte is gone at safety and that should hurt the Golden Bears, although there is still some depth.
Marc Anthony and Steve Williams both started games at corner last season and will return. There is not a lot of depth there, although Adrian Lee and Josh Hill could see some decent time there.
Sean Cattouse will get one of the safety spots after finishing last season strong. As of now, D.J. Campbell will get the other spot, but it is possible Hill is moved and there is some shifting that goes on.
10. Utah: This is a big weakness for Utah, as Brian Blechen was moved to linebacker and Brandon Burton left for the league.
Ryan Lacy and Conroy Black are the best corners on the team, but there is very little depth behind them.
At safety, Terrell Reese made some noise during the spring, but this is a very weak position for the Utes. Greg Bird is the leader for the other safety spot, but he continues to battle injury.
11. Colorado: The Buffs were not good against the pass last season despite having NFL players Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown.
Cornerback Parker Orms and safety Anthony Perkins are supposed to be starters, but both missed spring due to knee injuries.
To add to the scary thought, opposing quarterbacks completed 68 percent of their passes against Colorado last season.
12. Washington State: Deone Bucannon returns at strong safety and is easily the top returning player in the secondary.
A lot of Washington State's weakness last season had to do with a poor defensive line and the coaching staff will likely mix defenses to avoid this.
The Cougars start a sophomore at each corner position, with neither being a particularly big corner.