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Breaking It Down: Big 12 Defensive Secondary Position Rankings

The defensive secondary positions could actually be broken down into two different categories separating corners from safeties but for the sake of time and sanity we're lumping them into one category. What that does is take a school like Oklahoma who has the top corner duo in the conference but is unproven at the safeties and places them lower than they would be if we were ranking corners only but higher than if were were ranking just the safeties. So granted there's room for criticism but not a whole lot.     

Individual Unit Rankings

Corners Safeties
1 Oklahoma 1 Oklahoma State
2 Texas A&M 2 Texas
3 Missouri 3 Texas A&M
4 Oklahoma State 4 Kansas State
5 Texas 5 Oklahoma 
6 Texas Tech  6 Missouri
7 Iowa State 7 Texas Tech
8 Kansas 8 Kansas 
9 Baylor 9 Iowa State
10 Kansas State 10 Baylor

1. Oklahoma State - The last thing most people remember about the OSU secondary is Oklahoma's James Hanna and Cam Kenney running free to game clinching touchdowns. However, that's more of a testament of the OU offense than it is a knock against the O-State secondary.

The Cowboys take a hit in the loss of cornerback Andrew McGree who led the conference in interceptions last season. That's not to say that there are void of talent in 2011 but perhaps experience will be a bit of a detriment. In time, Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert are going to be a strong corner duo.

Safety Markelle Martin may be the best safety in the Big 12 and will carry the Poke's secondary. He's a hard hitter and terrific at run support but could stand to improve on his cover skills. He's joined by Johnny Thomas who showed marked improvement in 2010. Depth is going to be an issue for the Cowboys at safety.

2. Texas A&M - Corner Coryell Judie was a preseason All Conference selection and could very well end up there at the end of the season along with teammate Terrence Fredrick. This duo will challenge Oklahoma's Jamell Fleming Demontre Hurst for the best tandem in the Big 12.

At safety the Aggies have Trent Hunter who made 62 tackles last season and picked off two passes. He'll be joined by fellow safety Steven Terrell with Toney Hurd and Steven Campbell also likely to see action.

3. Oklahoma - The return of Jamell Fleming is beyond measure for Oklahoma's secondary and teamed up with Demontre Hurst they'll create the best corner duo in the conference. Fleming is a shutdown corner who can take away one side of the field and Hurst has the same potential.

The safety spot is what has Oklahoma dropped down so far on the list but that's not to say there isn't potential...just not a whole lot of experience. Sam Proctor is the upperclassmen of the unit but won't be the starter. Javon Harris filled in nicely last season is a big stronger this year but Aaron Colvin is a complete experiment after being moved from corner during the off season. If spring practice was any kind of indication then he's an experiment that is progressing very nicely.

4. Texas - The Longhorns have huge holes at the cornerback positions and could be starting a freshman in Quandre Diggs. The absence of Curtis and Chykie Brown along with Aaron Williams is going take some adjusting and could make things interesting early on in the season.

Blake Gideon is a four year starter at safety and will step up to be the leader of the secondary. Kenny Vaccaro mans the other safety spot and will be one of the hardest hitting defensive backs in the Big 12.

5. Missouri - Cornerback Kip Edwards wasn't a starter last season for the Tigers but did receive a significant amount of playing time and will step in as an experienced player in 2011 as a first year full-time starter.

The free safety spot is still up for grabs at Missouri but Kenji Jackson has a load of experience and will fill in nicely as the new starting strong safety.

6. Texas Tech - Corners Tre Porter and Derrick Mays are going to have to show marked improvement in order for the Red Raiders to keep the pace in the conference.

It says a lot about your defense when a safety is your team's returning leading tackler but that's what Texas Tech has in Cody Davis.

7. Kansas State - Cornerback David Garrett led the nation in tackles for loss last season but struggled heavily at times in pass coverage. The position opposite of him is still open and there isn't much depth there.

That's not the case for the safeties where Tysyn Hartman and Ty Zimmerman will make up one of the best safety duos in the Big 12.

8. Iowa State - The Cyclones return both of their returning starters from last year at corner where Jeremy Reeves and Leonard Johnson are solid.

Iowa State loses safety David Sims and his spot as yet to be filled. Whoever wins the competition this fall will be lining up with Ter'Ran Benton who has the other safety spot locked down.

9. Kansas - They Jayhawks have yet to fill the void left by Chris Harris but have Isiah Barfield back as an experienced corner.

Kansas is replacing both starting safeties where Keeston Terry and Bradley McDougald are front runners to take over.    

10. Baylor - The Bears return both starting corners from 2010 but both Chance Casey and Tyler Stephenson struggled.

New defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has yet to announce the new starters at safety but the Bears were last in the Big 12 in pass defense in 2010.