Ranking the defensive backs

CUTigers.com takes one last look at the top opposing players Clemson will face this year. The final position- defensive backs.

1. CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
2010: Gilmore was named first-team All-SEC by the league's coaches and second-team All-SEC by the Associated Press. He was also a third-team All-American by the AP. Gilmore, who started 14 games, led the Gamecocks with 79 tackles. He also had four interceptions and three sacks. Against Clemson, Gilmore had a team-high seven tackles.

What he's doing here: A former Scout.com five-star, Gilmore has started every game at cornerback since arriving to South Carolina in 2009. As a freshman, he was fifth on the team with 56 tackles. Gilmore had six tackles for loss, three sacks, an interception and eight pass breakups.

2. CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech
2010: Hosley had 39 tackles and nine interceptions during his sophomore season at Virginia Tech. Named to the Walter Camp All-American team and second-team All-American squad, according to the AP. The nation's leader in interceptions was also a first-team All-ACC selection.

What he's doing here: Hosley might be the top defensive back in the ACC. He tied a school record for interceptions last season. After starting most of 2010 as the field cornerback, he will start at the boundary cornerback position in 2011.

3.: CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
2010: As a redshirt freshman, Rhodes had 58 tackles and three interceptions. A consensus Freshman All-American, Rhodes was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in the ACC. He registered seven tackles, three pass breakups and an interception against Clemson.

What he's doing here: At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Rhondes possess this size that's coveted for cornerbacks at the NFL level. Some of his best games last season came down the stretch, so Rhodes could be developing into one of the top cornerbacks in the ACC, and maybe even the country.

honorable mention: CB Greg Reid, Florida State
2010: Reid finished his sophomore season 60 tackles, 10 pass breakups and three interceptions. A 14-game starter at the boundary cornerback position, Reid was named Chick-fil-A Bowl Defensive MVP for his five tackle, two forced fumble and four pass breakup performance in the win over South Carolina. Against Clemson, Reid had three tackles.

What he's doing here: After the hit Reid delivered to South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, some Clemson fans might want to see Reid listed a little higher. Either way, he deserves some kind of consideration for this list.

Reid's game oozes with confidence. His swagger borderlines on arrogance. It's the perfect mix for a cornerback, especially one who's undersized. Reid definitely plays bigger than his 5-8, 185-pound frame.

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