How many five-star DBs lived up to the hype in the last 10 years?


SDS will be taking a look around the country, as well as the SEC, at five-star prospects according to Here are the defensive backs.

Previous five-star articles:

There are currently five five-star corners in Vernon Hargreaves, Kendall Fuller, Jalen Ramsey and Tre-Davious White, as well as four five-star safeties in Su’a Cravens, Leon McQuay, Max Redfield and Von Bell for the 2013 class.  We’ll keep an eye on these nine over the course of their careers.

And over the course of the last decade, there have been 32 five-star defensive backs. Let’s see who lived up to all that hype.

2003 – 4 DBs

Paul Oliver, Georgia (CB): The in-state prospect elected to stay in Georgia and play for the hometown Bulldogs. But he was a reserve for much of his first two years and finally was named as a third-team All-SEC performer after his junior year. He tallied 57 tackles, two sacks and three picks as a junior. Oliver elected to go pro and was a fourth-round pick with the Chargers, where he still plays today. I’ve called Oliver a bust before, but he did have at least one good year with the Bulldogs.

Dee Webb, Florida (CB): The Jacksonville native entered Florida with tons of hype. Webb didn’t do much as a freshman or a sophomore, but he finally broke out as senior, starting 12 games. I’ve also called Webb a bust before, as he never truly lived up to the five-star hype in Gainesville. Webb, like Oliver, had one good year.  He left Florida after his junior year and was a seventh-round pick with the Jaguars. He last played in 2012 with the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

Prescott Burgess, Michigan (S): The Ohio native spurned the Buckeyes for Michigan in 2003. Burgess moved from safety to linebacker upon arriving in Ann Arbor. In just his last two years, Burgess tallied 129 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and four INTs. He went on to be drafted in the sixth round of the ’07 draft by the Ravens. He last played for Baltimore in 2011.

Quinton Culberson, Miss State (S): Culberson started his career as a corner and then moved to safety, but he finally ended up as a linebacker for the Bulldogs. He finished his career with 36 starts, 278 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, four INTs and four forced fumbles. Culberson was first-team All-SEC after his senior year and went undrafted in the NFL. He last played for the Edmonton Eskimos in ’11.

DBs ranked lower: Donte Whitner, Antonio Cromartie, Michael Griffin, Michael Griffin, Reggie Nelson, Mike Jenkins, Tom Zbikowski and Laron Landry

2004 – 1 DB

Ted Ginn, Jr, Ohio State (CB): The electrifying Ted Ginn switched to wide receiver and punt returner at OSU and played there three years. He caught 135 passes for 1,943 yards and 15 touchdowns in three years. Ginn also returned 64 punts for 900 yards and six touchdowns, while also returning 38 kickoffs for 1,012 yards and two touchdowns. He was a first-round pick with the Dolphins but currently plays for the 49ers.

DBs ranked lower: Johnathan Joseph, Tim Jennings, Tony Carter, Patrick Chung, Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, Aquib Talib, Brandon Flowers and Brandon Browner

2005 – 3 DBs

Justin King, Penn State (CB): King made an immediate impact on the Nittany Lions as a freshman on both offense and defense – but more on offense. He rushed for 227 yards as a freshman, but he primarily played corner for his last two years. King racked up 79 tackles and only three interceptions in two seasons as a starting corner. He became a fourth-round pick in ’08 with the Rams, and he played for the Steelers in 2012. King had a solid career for Penn State.

Demetrice Morley, Tennessee (CB): Morely was a touted defensive back from Miami who headed to Knoxville. He was a backup as a freshman and became an every day starter at safety as a sophomore when Inky Johnson got hurt. However, the next year, Tennessee dismissed Morely for academic reasons, but he returned in 2008. Lane Kiffin, however, dismissed Morely for good in 2009. Morely, who had so much potential, was a huge bust in college.

Kenny Phillips, Miami (S): Phillips immediately became a starter for the Hurricanes in his freshman season and was a second-team All-American the next two seasons. Phillips racked up 203 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and seven INTs in three years. He left Miami early and entered the draft, where he selected in the first round by the Giants. Phillips still plays for the Giants today.

DBs ranked lower: Darrelle Revis, Malcolm Jenkins, Nic Harris, Devin McCourty, Javier Arenas, Louis Delmas and Tracy Porter

2006 – 2 DBs

AJ Wallace, Penn State (CB): The former Maryland high school star elected to play for Penn State and Joe Paterno. Wallace made an immediate impact for the Nittany Lions on special teams as a freshman, and he was in and out of the starting lineup as a starting corner. Wallace made 99 tackles and four INTs in four years, along with 47 punt returns for 1,128 yards and one touchdown. He was a good player, but he never was the lockdown corner everyone though he would be. Wallace went undrafted in ’10 and currently plays for the Colorado Ice.

Reshad Jones, Georgia (S): The Atlanta product stayed in state to play for Mark Richt and Georgia and had a great career. Jones racked up 206 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 24 passes defended and 11 INTs in just three years. Jones left Georgia early and entered the draft and was picked in the fifth round by the Dolphins, where he still plays.

DBs ranked lower: Patrick Robinson, Kareem Jackson, Vontae Davis and Asher Allen

2007 – 3 DBs

Eric Berry, Tennessee (CB): Berry had a world of potential at Tennessee, and he lived up to it. The Jim Thorpe Award winner totaled 245 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 14 INTs and two forced fumbles in three years. He was electrifying in just three seasons at Tennessee, and he lived up to all the hype…and more. Berry was a first-round pick with the Chiefs in ’10 and still plays there today.

Curtis Brown, Texas (CB): Brown was a four-year corner for the Longhorns who made 28 starts. He compiled 120 tackles, two INTs and three tackles for loss. Brown also excelled on four years of special teams. He became a third-round pick with the Steelers in ’11, where he still plays. Brown had a very good career for the Horns.

Donovan Warren, Michigan (CB): The California kid turned Michigan signee played three years in Ann Arbor. He started all three years, totaling 170 tackles, 22 passes defended and six INTs, and was a freshman All-American. Warren left Michigan early for the draft, but he went undrafted and signed with the Jets in ’10. He is currently on the Bears practice squad, but he lived up to the hype at Michigan.

DBs ranked lower: Prince Amukamara, Marcus Gilchrist, Joe Haden, Harrison Smith, Jamell Fleming, Coty Sensabaugh, Ron Brooks, Ahmad Black and Major Wright

2008 – 1 DB

Patrick Johnson (Peterson), LSU: Johnson changed his name to Patrick Peterson and dominated at LSU. You want a dominant corner and punt returner? Peterson is your man. He racked up 135 tackles and seven INTs in three years, along with returning 32 punts for 932 yards and 27 kicks for 424 yards and two total touchdowns. Peterson was the fifth overall pick in the ’10 draft with the Cardinals, where he still plays.

DBs ranked lower: Mark Barron, Casey Hayward, DJ Monroe, Janoris Jenkins, Aaron Hester, Aaron Williams, Bacarri Rambo, DeQuan Menzie, Brandon Taylor and Brandon Boykin

2009 – 8 DBs

Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama (CB): Kirkpatrick flourished in Nick Saban’s system. He was a three-years-and-done type player and everyone knew it. Kirkpatrick was the definition of a lockdown corner. He totaled 91 tackles, eight tackles for loss and three INTs in three years. Kirkpatrick became a first-rounder for the Bengals, where he still plays. No bust for Dre.

Janzen Jackson, Tennessee (CB): Jackson signed with Tennessee and shunned the in-state favorite LSU. Jackson played a lot as a freshman at Tennessee and looked very promising. He was suspended and eventually released from the team before the 2011 season. He totaled 106 tackles and six INTs in two years. He was quite the player, but he couldn’t keep it together off the field. Jackson transferred to McNeese State and signed a free agent deal with the Giants in 2012 and played for Sacramento Mountain Lions.

Darius Winston, Arkansas (CB): Winston is arguably the biggest bust on the entire list for defensive backs. Although he made it through four years in Fayetteville, his career never panned out the way anyone anticipated. He was in and out of the starting lineup and only made 52 tackles in his four-year career. Winston is the prime example of a five-star corner bust.

Greg Reid, FSU (CB): Reid has as much ability as any corner in college football, but he struggled with life off the field and was dimissed in August of ’12 before his senior year. Reid will still go down as one of the best return specialists in school, as he returned 152 punts or kicks for 2,670 yards and three touchdowns. Reid was a two-year starter at corner and registered 120 tackles and seven INTs in three years. Reid was quite the athlete.

Branden Smith, Georgia (CB): Smith was electric athlete exiting high school projected to play corner. Although he probably wasn’t the best corner he could have been, Georgia found ways to use him on offense and special teams. Smith only made 80 tackles and four INTs in his four-year career, but he also rushed for 363 yards and three touchdowns and returned 23 kickoffs for 410 yards.

Corey Brown, Ohio State (CB): Brown turned out to be a bust for OSU. He switched positions twice and never really cracked the two-deep at safety. Brown missed most of the 2010 season with a knee injury, but he struggled his entire career and never turned out to be the player everyone projected.

Craig Loston, LSU (S): Loston probably hasn’t had the career everyone thought he would up till this point, but he’s returning for his senior year to try and put an exclamation point on it. Loston has totaled 91 tackles and three INTs in three years at safety, and he has one more year to live up to all that hype.  Loston did have a strong junior season and considered going pro.  LSU needs him and his experience in a big way.

TJ McDonald, USC (S): McDonald played all four seasons for the Trojans, and finished his career in 2012. He totaled 163 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and six interceptions in his career. McDonald was a strong starter, but he produced few big plays in his career…not to mention USC’s defense hasn’t been rankd in the top 50 for the last two years. He’ll tell you he didn’t live up to his own standards.

DBs ranked lower: Morris Claiborne, Stephon Gilmore, Jordan Poyer, Cliff Harris, Jayron Hosley, DJ Swearinger, Shawn Williams and Phillip Thomas

2010 – 4 DBs

Lamarcus Joyner, FSU (CB): You could consider Lamarcus Joyner one of the best safeties in the country for 2012. Joyner hits like a truck and has speed like a running back. He’s totaled 128 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and six INTs in three years, but he has also excelled on special teams, returning 47 kickoffs for 1,150 yards in three seasons. And he’s coming back for his senior year.

Dee Milliner, Alabama (CB): Milliner played as a freshman and sophomore, but he blossomed as a junior in his first full year starting for the Tide. He was arguably the top cover-corner for the Tide in 2012, and he was a unanimous first-team All-American and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. Milliner totaled 34 pass breakups for his career.

Keenan Allen, Cal (S): Allen switched to WR at Cal and had a stellar career. He was a stud even though he switched positions, and he racked up 205 catches in three seasons for 2,570 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also returned 15 punts for 212 yards and one touchdown as a junior. Allen declared for the draft as a junior.

Matt Elam, Florida (S): Elam earned first-team All-American from several sites a junior in 2012, and he had a strong career at Florida. Elam was arguably the best run-stopping safety in the country in ’12, and he totaled 100 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, eight pass breakups, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Elam should be a first- or second-round pick in April.

DBs ranked lower: Tyrann Mathieu, Alec Ogletree, Tony Jefferson and Eric Reid

2011 – 2 DBs

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama (S): HCD earned playing time as a freshman and even more playing time as a sophomore. He’s totaled 41 tackles and two INTs in two seasons for Nick Saban and Alabama, and he should be a breakout star in 2013.

Karlos Williams, FSU (S): Williams was a hammer coming out of high school, and he’s had arguably a greater impact on special teams than on defense in two years. Williams has only tallied 39 tackles, but he’s returned 21 kickoffs for 526 yards, averaging 25 yards per return.

DBs ranked lower: Malcolm Mitchell, Quandre Diggs and Wayne Lyons

2012 – 4 DBs

Tracy Howard, Miami (CB): Howard played in all 12 games, making one start and totaling 17 tackles and four pass breakups.

Shaq Thompson, Washington (S): Thompson played in all 13 games in 2012, and he registered 74 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, as well as three INTs, three breakups and six passes defended.

Landon Collins, Alabama (S): Collins recorded 17 tackles, mostly on special teams as a freshman.

Eddie Williams, Alabama (ATH): Williams did not play for Alabama in 2012.

LBs ranked lower: Keivarae Russell, Ronald Darby, Geno Smith, Alex Carter and Karl Joseph

Lived up to the hype

  • Kenny Phillips, Miami
  • Reshad Jones, Georgia
  • Eric Berry, Tennessee
  • Curtis Brown, Texas
  • Donovan Warren, Michigan
  • Patrick Peterson, LSU
  • Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
  • Greg Reid, FSU
  • Dee Milliner, Alabama
  • Matt Elam, Florida

Switched positions and still lived up to the hype

  • Prescott Burgess, Michigan (LB)
  • Quinton Culberson, Miss State (LB)
  • Ted Ginn, Ohio State (WR)
  • Keenan Allen, Cal

Good careers but mixed reviews

  • Paul Oliver, Georgia
  • Dee Webb, Florida
  • Justin King, Penn State
  • AJ Wallace, Penn State
  • Branden Smith, Georgia
  • TJ McDonald, USC


  • Demetrice Morely, Tennessee
  • Janzen Jackson, Tennessee
  • Darius Winston, Arkansas
  • Corey Brown, Ohio State


  • Craig Loston, LSU
  • Lamarcus Joyner, FSU
  • HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama
  • Karlos Williams, FSU
  • Tracy Howard, Miami
  • Shaq Thompson, Washington
  • Landon Collins, Alabama
  • Eddie Williams, Alabama
Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports



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