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Ranking the SEC’s top 10 cornerbacks of the BCS era

Related BCS Ranking:

The SEC defensive linemen and linebackers were absolutely stacked during the BCS era, but could it be the corners are even more stacked? The cornerback talent that has filtered through the league since 1998 is unparalleled to maybe any other position.

I was going to rank the defensive backs in totality, including the safeties, but I found that approach would be leaving out several star corners and safeties. So, I’m breaking them up.

Here are the 10 best BCS cornerbacks:

1. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU (2008-10)
Skinny: Peterson was a top five-caliber overall athlete during the BCS era, and his skills as a cover corner, tackler and returner were off the charts. Peterson played well as a freshman, but he blew into a first-team All-SEC and second-team All-American performer as a sophomore. Peterson won the Nagurski, Thorpe, Lott, Walter Camp and Bednarik Awards, as well as the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, and he returned 12 punts for 283 total yards and two touchdowns a junior. Elite best describes Peterson.

2. Champ Bailey, CB, Georgia (1996-98)
Skinny: Since Champ Bailey played in the SEC, there’s never been another Champ Bailey. He was a triple threat – defense, offense and special teams – in all three seasons for the Bulldogs. In just his final year, he made 52 tackles, three INTs and seven passes defended, while making 47 catches for 744 yards and five touchdowns. He also added 84 rushing yards and 12 kickoff returns for 261 yards. Bailey won the Nagurski as a junior and was a consensus All-American in ‘98.

3. Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn (2001-04)
Skinny: Rogers started 44 games in four years, including 10 as a freshman, garnering freshman All-American honors. He tallied 182 tackles, seven INTs and two fumble recoveries. He holds Auburn’s career record with 40 pass deflections and was a major reason the Tigers were undefeated in 2004. Rogers is a member of Auburn’s All-Decade team and was a consensus All-American in 2004, along with winning the Thorpe Award.

4. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU (2009-11)
Skinny: The former three-star no-name recruit became one of the best BCS corners. Morris Claiborne was known for his lockdown ability as a cover corner. Claiborne followed in Peterson’s shoes the very next year, and he won the Thorpe in 2011. The consensus first-team All-American tallied 51 tackles with six INTs as a junior, while moonlighting as a return specialist. Claiborne finished tied sixth in LSU history with 11 INTs and second in INT return yards with 274.

5. Joe Haden, CB, Florida (2007-09)
Skinny: Haden, like the others on this stacked list, was an incredible athlete. He entered Florida as an athlete and exited one of the top corners in the country. Haden became the first ever true freshman to start at corner for the Gators on opening day. He won a national championship in 2008, was a unanimous All-American in 2009 and won the National Defensive Player of the Year award. He finished his three-year career with 197 tackles and eight INTs.

6. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State (2009-12)
Skinny: One of Mississippi State’s most decorated players ever entered State as a safety. Banks switched to corner his sophomore year and compiled 16 career INTs and three touchdowns. He became a first-team All-American and won the Thorpe Award as a senior.

7. Corey Webster, CB, LSU (2001-04)
Skinny: It’s hard to believe that as good a player as Corey Webster was, he’s the third best corner to attend LSU during the BCS era. He entered LSU as a receiver before switching to corner as a sophomore, and he became a two-time All-American and a three-time first-team All-SEC member. He was twice a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award.

8. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU (2010-11)
Skinny: Another LSU CB on the list? You bet, and had he played another year, Mathieu may have moved into the top five. He became a fan favorite in 2011 with his uncanny ability to make big play after big play. He won the Bednarik as the nation’s top defender in 2011, as he led the Tigers with 76 tackles, six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and two INTs. Mathieu also returned punts for touchdowns against Arkansas and Georgia. If LSU needed a big play, it was coming from Mathieu. It’s hard to believe Mathieu was just one man, because it always seemed like there were two of him.

9. Lito Sheppard, CB, Florida (1999-01)
Skinny: Sheppard was an excellent corner for Steve Spurrier’s Gators. He was a sophomore first-team All-SEC and was an All-American in 2000-01. Sheppard started 36 games during his three-year career and recorded eight INTs. He also added two punt returns for touchdowns.

10. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (2010-12)
Skinny: Milliner logged 31 career starts during his three-year career, including 11 his true freshman season. He was college football’s top cover corner in 2012 and was a unanimous All-American. He was a finalist for the Nagurski and Thorpe Awards. He totaled 34 pass breakups during his three-year career.


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