Pre Spring: DB

Note, this is only a partial list since my list will continue to grow throughout the spring and summer as I attend more camps and combines and get a chance to watch more of the top players.

Darin Baldwin, 5-11, 170, Homestead (South Dade) -- The school's best defensive prospect since Antrel Rolle, Baldwin brings a lot of the same qualities to the field as Rolle. He's a very confident kid, who likes to get into the ears of his opponents. Baldwin began his prep career as a cornerback before moving to free safety at the start of his junior season. He finished last season with over 50 tackles and five picks and it's very impressive the way he can cover the field the way he does. Because he also plays offense, Baldwin's ball skills are very good as well. He's not a burner, which is why many project him to play safety in college. His ball skills, instincts, and playmaking skills make him one of the state's top prospects at this position. He's a lot like former Coral Reef star Dorian Munroe at this age.

Shannon Ballard, 5-11, 180, Miami Norland -- A true ballhawk in Norland's secondary last season, Ballard finished the season with over 70 tackles and one interception. He played more of a strong safety role as a junior since he was so heavily involved in the running game. He has the natural instincts to make a big impact at the safety position and will be looked upon as a defensive leader this coming season.

Ricky Gary, 5-9, 175, Pahokee -- A pure cover guy who locked onto Pahokee's top opposing receivers and shut things down as a junior this past season. Although he's not the biggest kid out there, he's very physical for his size and obviously has tremendous speed. He's just a natural, with the ability to break on the ball, time his jumps, and stay in the pocket of his opponents. While he doesn't have the prototypical size of a big time cornerback prospect, he'll get recruited heavily because of his ability to take away his side of the field.

Chavez Grant, 5-10, 165, Miami (Booker T. Washington) -- One of the top cover guys in South Florida this past season, Grant was another player who shut down his side of the field for the most part. Although he only had two interceptions last season, teams rarely challenged him and when they did, it was usually unsuccessful. He runs very well and has some big play flair at the position. He's still a little raw and his best days are certainly ahead of him.

Donsay Hardeman, 6-2, 215, Jacksonville (Raines) -- One of the top returning players in the Jacksonville area, Hardeman will soon become a four year starter. He has 17 interceptions the last two seasons while playing strong safety and is also a big time player in run support, having registered 80 total tackles as a junior. He doubles as a tight end on offense, mainly because he's good enough to block people as well as catch a few extra passes. He runs really well and is the school's best DB prospect since Lito Sheppard and that may extend even further if he has the senior season his coaches expect.

Brandon Heath, 6-0, 180, Palm Beach Lakes -- A top level two-way player, Heath is considered by many to be a top notch WR prospect as well. However, his ability to cover ground and make plays in the secondary is what will likely have college coaches most excited. He had over 40 tackles, 10 for loss, and two picks as a junior but it's his size, speed, and overall athletic combo that has people excited. He's a natural center fielder who will likely emerge as one of the state's top safety prospects this coming season.

Renold Louis, 6-1, 180, Immokalee -- Playing in the shadows of teammates Javarris James and John Paul, Louis is coming off an impressive junior season himself. He's got the size you look for in a defensive back prospect and has pretty good speed for his size. It's unclear whether or not he projects higher as a cornerback, where he played last season, or free safety. He finished the season with eight picks and had a very impressive showing in the state championship game against Madison County.

Laurence Marius, 5-11, 160, Key West -- One of the state's fastest players, Marius won the fastest man competition at a camp in Lakeland last summer. That's always a good place to start when evaluating a cornerback prospect. He makes plays in all phases of the game and will likely be Key West's top prospect in over a decade. He may not get the same amount of spotlight as some other in-state cornerbacks, but his ability matches up pretty well with most of them.

DeAndre McDaniel, 6-0, 175, Tallahassee (Godby) -- Perhaps the top defensive back prospect in the Panhandle this season, McDaniel shut down opposing wide receivers last season. He is the 6-0+ cornerback that college coaches love these days and brings a tremendous amount of athletic ability to the position. His coaches at Godby love him for not only what he does on Friday nights but what he can do during the week and through the offseason. He's a high energy kid, who works hard, and gets good grades. He'll likely get recruited nationally.

Patrick Robinson, 5-11, 165, South Miami -- If you pop in a game tape of South Miami from 2004, it's going to be hard to miss Robinson. He was everywhere -- from making plays on special teams, to scoring touchdowns on offense, to shutting down opposing receivers while playing cornerback. Robinson will be one of the fastest players in the entire state this coming season and brings a tremendous amount of athletic ability to the position. He had over 400 yards and six scores on offense, he blocked a couple kicks on special teams, and had a county-high eight interceptions while playing defense. He's a hair under 5-11 and has all the tools you look for in a difference maker at that position.

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