We're near the end of our position-by-position evaluation of local football talent. This week, we run down the top defensive backs in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
In compiling our top-15 list of cornerbacks and safeties, we chose not to include players whom we ranked among the best at their respective positions on offense. Those players may wind up playing on defense in college.
That group includes standout two-way performers such as North Penn's Ronnie Akins (WR/CB), Cardinal O'Hara's Corey Brown (RB/CB), Northeast's Je'Ron Stokes (WR/CB), Roman Catholic's Kasseim Everett (RB/CB), and Father Judge's Tom Ryan (WR/FS).
When grading the defensive backs, we took into consideration coverage ability, open-field tackling, skill at helping out against the run, and potential to excel at the next level:
1. Abdul Smith, Perkiomen School, senior, 6-foot, 185 pounds.
An excellent one-on-one defender who covers the entire field, the safety and Rutgers recruit had five interceptions in eight games.
2. Billy Conners, Malvern Prep, senior, 5-11, 165.
At cornerback, Conners, who is headed to Duke for lacrosse, finished with a team-high five interceptions, including a pair against St. Joseph's Prep.
3. Mike Doty, Central Bucks South, senior, 6-3, 200.
As a free safety, Doty, a transfer from Germantown Academy, was a solid cover guy and an even better tackler.
4. Tim Smith, Methacton, senior, 6-1, 185.
The ball-hawking defender made 13 interceptions in 11 games. He also blocked three point-after kicks and two field-goal attempts.
5. Kevin Farrington, La Salle, senior, 5-11, 180.
With his aggressiveness and solid tackling, the safety helped lead the Explorers to the Catholic League Division AAAA championship.
6. Derek Brown, Souderton, junior, 5-11, 185.
The safety, a Division I-A prospect, notched 11 tackles against Roman Catholic and nine versus Neshaminy.
7. Mike Yeager, St. Joseph's Prep, senior, 5-10, 170.
Also a 1,300-yard rusher, Yeager delivered plenty of big hits as a hard-nosed safety.
8. Rondell White, Bayard Rustin, junior, 5-10, 175.
White is more than just a top-notch running back. Over the last two seasons, the speedy cornerback has 13 interceptions.
9. Chase Kriza, Unionville, senior, 5-10, 170.
The free safety, a terrific run-stopper, was the quarterback of the Indians' defense. He was banged up near the end of the season.
10. Kalif Walker, Frankford, senior, 5-10, 165.
Walker's athleticism and hard-hitting ways helped spark the Pioneers to a 9-3 mark, including a Thanksgiving Day win over North Catholic.
11. Liam McGrath, Haverford High, senior, 6-0, 155.
The first-team all-Central League performer, also a leader at quarterback, had a team-high nine interceptions in 12 games.
12. Tyler Hamilton, Council Rock North, junior, 6-0, 175.
A strong safety with good instincts and pass-coverage skills, he was his team's second-leading tackler.
13. Laquan Frazier, Academy Park, senior, 5-9, 185.
The fleet-footed Frazier was a stellar cover cornerback who also shined at stuffing the run.
14. Erik Williams, Pennsbury, junior, 6-3, 180.
Williams, with a solid off-season conditioning program and improved technique, could be looking at a Division I-A scholarship offer.
15. Chris Boland, Neshaminy, senior, 5-10, 170.
Boland, a fiery cornerback, earned first-team all-Suburban One League National Conference honors.
The best of the rest (listed alphabetically):
Eric Brundidge, Northeast, junior, 5-11, 160; Terrell Chestnut, Pottsgrove, sophomore, 5-10, 170; Kyle Crowder, Plymouth Whitemarsh, senior, 6-0, 200; Mike Goodrich, Downingtown West, junior, 5-9, 150; Pete Haines, Germantown Academy, senior, 6-3, 200; Tyriq Kershaw, Penncrest, senior, 5-11, 175; Ryan Klein, Episcopal Academy, senior, 5-11, 180; DeShawn London, Coatesville, senior, 6-3, 190; Sean McCartney, Archbishop Wood, senior, 6-3, 175; Pat Mills, Ridley, senior, 6-0, 170; Billy Morgan, Cardinal O'Hara, senior, 5-9, 160; Joe Nassib, Haverford School, junior, 5-8, 165; Lonnie Richardson, Strath Haven, junior, 5-11, 185; Laquan Robinson, Chester, junior, 5-11, 170; Dave Smith, Monsignor Bonner, senior, 6-0, 180; Anthony Taggart, North Penn, senior, 5-10, 165; Danny Weber, Downingtown East, senior, 5-10, 165; Jamal Williams, George Washington, senior, 6-0, 160; Scott Woodard, Pennsbury, senior, 5-10, 160.