It’s that time again! The summer months are upon us and our favorite way to pass the time is by speculating on how specific positions will shape up in the Big 12. The Heartland Sports writers give their take on a specific position, ranking them from first to worst. Then they are asked to defend their top three and bottom two rankings.
The consensus rankings come from a points system. A first place selection is worth 10 points, second place is 9 points, and they continue in descending order with tenth place equaling 1 point.
|Heartland Sports Consensus Defensive Back Rankings|
|2. Iowa State||36|
|4. Kansas State||27|
|5. Oklahoma State||23|
|8. West Virginia||13|
|9. Texas Tech||10|
1. TCU – Gary Patterson consistently fields a defense ready for any and all challengers. Relying a plethora seniors in the secondary, the group appears set to build on the successes from last year. Experience is certainly on the side of the Horned Frogs here but it’s a talented group nonetheless.
2. Iowa State – Returning a majority of the experience on the roster, the Cyclones remain in a good position in the secondary. Giving up 6.9 yards per pass attempt kept the team competitive in many contests. Now with the offense on par, it will be a complete team effort moving forward as ISU undoubtedly cements themselves in the Big 12 race.
3. Kansas State – Without much of a bright spot to lean on last year, the secondary provided a constant stream of productivity. Nabbing 10 interceptions, I’d venture to say this is the strong suit of the defense. Now under the direction of a new DC, can the unit continue to climb the ladder here?
6. West Virginia
7. Oklahoma State
8. Texas Tech
9. Oklahoma | The Sooners failed to turn the ball over on a consistent basis last season. Now breaking in a new defensive coordinator, the problems likely still exist. Whether it be a case of fundamentals or a lack of motivation, something must change moving forward. Until this group proves that the old ways are gone, I’ve placed them toward the bottom.
10. Kansas | Against opponents, the Jayhawks may have come up with a few turnovers. However, surrendered big play after big play, Kansas found themselves in consistent trouble. Can the team keep the lid on this go around?
1. TCU | The Horned Frogs finished first in the conference a season ago in pass defense allowing under 200 passing yards—the only team in the Big 12 to do so—and they have a good chance at leading the Big 12 again this year. The defensive backfield is stacked with veterans, and seniors Jeff Gladney and Julius Lewis will lead the way.
2. Iowa State | The Cyclones were second in the Big 12 last season in pass defense, and they have a ton of depth back in action this season. Junior Greg Eisworth was 1st team All-Big 12 selection last year, and he will anchor the secondary again this year.
3. Texas | The Longhorn secondary was nothing special last season, but sophomore Caden Sterns, who was 1st team All-Big 12 and Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, is considered to be the favorite for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and he will lead the way for Texas this season.
4. Oklahoma State
6. Kansas State
8. West Virginia
9. Texas Tech | The Red Raiders are good at passing the ball on the offensive side of the ball, and they’re not so great at stopping the passing game on the defensive side. They were one of the worst last season, and they will likely be in the same position this season.
10. Kansas | The Jayhawks have some seniors returning with experience in the secondary, but the secondary was picked apart in conference play, and the offensive talent across the league hasn’t exactly dropped off.
1. TCU | The Horned Frogs will have an excellent defense this season. One of their strongest positions is at defensive back. They will be returning two seniors in Jeff Gladney and Julius Lewis. The two combined for a third of the teams interceptions last year.
2. Iowa State | The Cyclones had the second best secondary in the league last year. They will be returning 7 out of the 10 defensive backs from last season. Greg Eisworth will lead the way as he was First Team All-Big 12 a year ago.
3. Texas | Texas comes in at third due to the young talent they have. The Longhorns absolutely have potential to be the best secondary in the conference. A huge season from sophomore Caden Sterns would definitely take the Longhorns defense to the next level.
4. Kansas State
5. Oklahoma State
8. West Virginia
9. Texas Tech | Texas Tech has been letting teams “air it out” on them for years. However, with a new coaching staff the defensive mindset might be changing. That being said, without any proven talent, the Red Raiders rank down at the bottom on this one.
10. Kansas | The Jayhawks allowed a near 70% completion rate for opposing quarterbacks last season. Mike Lee and Bryce Torneden will be the lone seniors in the secondary. Although they have some potential, it could very well be a long season for the Kansas defense.
1. TCU | Its seniors across the board for the Horned Frogs’ secondary. They’ll certainly be one of the more experienced defensive backfields in the conference but they’ll also be one of the most talented. Jeff Gladney and Julius Lewis are going to be as tough as they come at the cornerback position.
2. Iowa State | It is a bit strange not having the Cyclones at the top of a defensive position group ranking but the Cyclones are still going to be pretty stout as a talented group of defensive backs will help them to have possibly the top defense in the Big 12. Greg Eisworth is the anchor of this unit after a 2018 season that resulted in him being a First Team All-Big 12 selection and the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer.
3. Texas | Sophomore safety Caden Sterns is coming off a Defensive Freshman of the Year campaign in the Big 12 and senior Brandon Jones is an NFL caliber talent.
4. Kansas State
5. Oklahoma State
8. Texas Tech
9. West Virginia | The Mountaineers are pretty solid at corner with seniors in Josh Norwood and Keith Washington but a reported three safeties have entered into the transfer portal, including All-Big 12 selection Kenny Robinson Jr., which leaves a lot of uncertainty.
10. Kansas | Take heart Kansas, you won’t be last forever.
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