Overview: Iowa State's starting four defensive backs are as good as any unit it has fielded under Dan McCarney, but the focus this spring was building some capable depth behind cornerbacks DeAndre Jackson and LaMarcus Hicks. But the good news is that five capable freshmen will be added to the mix this summer.
Strengths: Jackson, a returning starter, took his game to another level this spring, and still has two more seasons of eligibility. The high school quarterback grew more accustomed to his position and has become a lock down defender that will be used on an island. While the Cyclones didn't have enough depth at corner, they had a surplus at safety. So much so that Adam Carper could be moved to SAM linebacker. Caleb Berg and Brandon Hunley both had solid springs in reserve roles.
Weaknesses: A lack of experienced depth at corner. ISU had just three scholarship players this spring, only after moving Chris Brown from wide receiver. The bottom line is the Cyclones will be in trouble if walk-ons Roger Wright, Leon Ashby, and Justin Harris fill out a depth chart this fall.
Rising players: Had he not gotten hurt in the final week of practice, Hunley would have gotten the attention of Cyclone fans during the spring game. Hunley was a ball hawk throughout the early stages of spring, picking off a few passes during scrimmage situations.
Lingering needs/Questions: Although defensive coaches were pleased with Hicks' transition from nickel back to starting corner, it will be interesting to see how he holds up this fall. While Jackson gets a lot of man responsibility, Hicks should get some help from safeties. But he'll still need to prove he can hold his own at another position.