College Football's Top 20 Cornerback Tandems in 2013
20. Fresno State
Sean Alston, Jr.
The junior (left) earned honorable mention All-Mountain West honors as a sophomore last year after five interceptions (returned for 103 yards) to go with 50 total tackles and one sack. Look for a big season from Alston.
L.J. Jones, Sr.
The other half of the returning starting tandem is the disruptive senior. Jones posted 43 tackles and broke up 13 passes a year ago.
19. Oklahoma State
Justin Gilbert, Sr.
Also a dangerous return man, Gilbert posted 53 tackles, 2.5 for loss and knocked down nine passes. He is one of the nation's best all-around athletes. (left)
Kevin Peterson, So.
After getting his feet wet against elite Big 12 offenses as a freshman, Peterson is poised for a big first-year in the staring lineup. He posted 18 tackles a year ago. (right)
Ricardo Allen, Sr.
The All-Big Ten selection (left) is one of the nation's top covermen as he holds the school record for most INTs returned for touchdowns (3). He posted 45 tackles, 4.0 for loss, one sack and one INT in 2012.
Frankie Williams, So.
The youngster from Tampa, Fla., got plenty of playing time as a freshman in 2012. He posted 45 tackles, broke up nine passes and had two interceptions in his first season.
Nick VanHoose, So.
After just a redshirt freshman season, VanHoose has already earned himself preseason All-Big Ten honors. He intercepted three passes a year ago and made 33 total tackles proving he belonged on the field with the best. (right)
Daniel Jones, Jr.
Although less talented than VanHoose, Jones has plenty of experience opposite his running mate. He posted 33 tackles and four PBUs as a sophomore last year. (left)
Alex Carter, So.
Just a sophomore, Carter (left) is already a preseason All-Pac-12 selection. He had 46 tackles, 3.0 for loss and intercepted five passes (for 110 yards) as a freshman. He has a very bright future.
Wayne Lyons, Jr.
Lyons didn't see much action as a freshman but came back last year and provided plenty of support for one of the nation's top defenses. He posted 25 tackles and one INT in 2012.
Jalen Mills, So.
Unexpectedly thrust into the SEC fire as just a freshman, Mills (left) responded and should be better for it. His 57 tackles were fourth on the team and he intercepted two passes in his first college season.
Jalen Collins, So.
The other half of the LSU sophomore CB duo posted 30 tackles and two of his own interceptions a year ago. He, too, was forced to play a ton as a freshman and should be much improved as a second-year starter.
14. South Carolina
Victor Hampton, Jr.
One of the most talented players on the defense, Hampton may not be in Columbia much longer. He registered 40 tackles, 3.0 for loss, one sack and one interception as a sophomore last fall. (right)
Jimmy Legree, Sr.
The veteran of the duo, Legree isn't as talented as his running mate but has plenty of ability of his own. He had 44 tackles and three INTs last year, including one returned for a touchdown against East Carolina. (left)
Aaron Colvin, Sr.
The Sooners' star coverman (left) is one of the nation's top cornerbacks, and, with another solid season, could easily be a first-round NFL Draft pick. He made 61 stops, registered two sacks, picked off four passes and broke up 11 in 2012.
Cortez Johnson, So.
The newcomer with a huge frame (6-2, 190) has a chance to help rebuild the struggling Sooners defense. Johnson signed with Arizona out of high school before transferring to Norman.
Damian Swann, Jr.
There is a lot to like about Georgia's secondary and Swann (left) is the top returning player. The preseason All-SEC selection had 53 tackles, four interceptions, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles as a sophomore.
Sheldon Dawson, So.
The talented sophomore enters the starting lineup with loads of ability and some limited experience as a backup last fall. He posted 12 tackles as a freshman in 2012.
11. Michigan State
Darqueze Dennard, Sr.
One of the nation's top coverman (left) is a first-team All-Big Ten selection heading into his final season. He posted 52 tackles, 3.5 for loss and intercepted three passes for the second year in a row. The potential All-American is the leader of the Spartans secondary.
Trae Waynes, So.
Waynes played in nine games as a freshman and will be counted on to be a much bigger factor in 2013. He posted just five tackles, but flashed big-play ability with half a sack and a tackle for loss.
10. Texas A&M
Deshazor Everett, Jr.
Off-the-field issues notwithstanding, Everett (left) is one of the best cornerbacks in the nation. He posted 56 tackles, 3.0 for loss, intercepted two passes (one for six points) and is a preseason second-team All-SEC selection. (right)
De'Vante Harris, So.
The other half of the Aggies' cover duo is this speedy sophomore. Harris posted just 12 tackles in limited duty as a freshman last year but is poised for a big second season in College Station. (left)
9. Notre Dame
Bennett Jackson, Sr.
The leader of the Irish secondary this year is the senior cornerback (left). Jackson helped lead ND to a perfect regular season record by finishing third on the team in tackles (65) and snagging four interceptions while locking down the opponent's top target.
KeiVarae Russell, So.
The very talented freshman played well in his first season a year ago. His 58 tackles were fifth on the team and he grabbed two INTs of his own.
Jason Verrett, Sr.
The best cornerback in the Big 12 could also be a first-team All-American in 2013. He stuffed the stat sheet for the league's best defense with 63 tackles, six interceptions, 5.0 tackles for loss and 16 pass breakups. (left)
Kevin White, Jr.
The junior was very dependable opposite Verrett a year ago. He made 37 tackles and picked off one pass while breaking up eight. He is an excellent complement to the all-everything Verrett. (right)
7. Virginia Tech
Antone Exum, Sr.
If Exum (left) returns from a January ACL injury, the Hokies could boast the best set of corners in the nation. If healthy, the All-ACC corner will build on his 48 tackles, 16 pass breakups and five interceptions.
Kyle Fuller, Sr.
The other half of the dynamic cover duo is the Hokie legacy. He posted 52 tackles and two picks last year and could be playing alongside his younger brother, Kendall, should Exum not be ready when the season begins. A Fuller-Fuller combination still would be one of the top CB duos in the nation.
6. Florida State
Lamarcus Joyner, Sr.
The supremely talented defensive back is poised to have his best season yet as a Seminole. He posted 51 tackles, intercepted his sixth career pass and was a dynamic kick returner last fall. Look for the All-ACC performer to have a huge year for FSU. (left)
Ronald Darby, So.
He will split time with Nick Waisome opposite of Joyner but both are capable of being all-conference-type players. Darby has the elite upside and five-star talent needed to become a national star. (right)
Deion Belue, Sr.
The junior college transfer (left) had an excellent first season for the Tide last year. He posted 40 tackles, two interceptions, 6.5 tackles for loss and returned one fumble 57 yards for a touchdown against Western Carolina.
Geno Smith, So.
Smith has more overall ability and more upside than Belue but will be starting for the first time this fall. The elite recruit made nine tackles last year and flashed big-time ability as just a freshman.
4. Ohio State
Bradley Roby, Jr.
The off-the-field issue this summer won't cost him much playing time (1-2 games, at most) and that means Roby is still the nation's best cornerback. He is an elite playmaker who is a first-round NFL Draft pick. He posted 63 tackles and 17 pass breakups to go with three defensive and special teams touchdowns (INT, fumble and blocked kick). (right)
Doran Grant, Jr.
As a nickel back and reserve, Grant saw plenty of action and has plenty of ability. He posted 19 tackles, one sack and one INT in limited action as a freshman. He is the next in a long line of great Ohio State cornerbacks. (left)
Quandre Diggs, Jr.
The electric athlete is a superstar in the making. He has elite speed and quickness that helped him intercept eight passes in two seasons. Diggs registered 52 tackles, one sack and 3.0 tackles for loss. If the defense in Austin can improve overall from last year's woeful production, this duo could be the best in the nation. (right)
Carrington Byndom, Sr.
He has more experience and is more dependable than Diggs despite being less athletic and explosive. He blocked two kicks and picked off three passes (one for six points) to go with his 52 tackles, 3.0 for loss and one sack. (left)
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Jr.
One of the nation's biggest-play threats is I.E.O. He is a potential first-team All-American and first-round NFL Draft pick. Ekpre-Olomu should only build on his remarkable 2012 campaign in which he made 63 tackles, intercepted four passes (returning one for a touchdown), deflected 16 passes and forced an incredible six fumbles. (left)
Terrance Mitchell, Jr.
The Ducks are one of two teams in the nation with a preseason first- and second-team CB. Mitchell doesn't get the headlines of his counterpart but has comparable ability. He registered 40 tackles and broke up eight passes as a sophomore a year ago. (right)
Louchiez Purifoy, Jr.
The dynamic athlete has been used on offense as well as defense. The Charles Woodson/Champ Bailey comparisons alone make him one of the nation's best cornerbacks. He is a first-team All-SEC pick after 51 tackles, three forced fumbles, two blocked kicks and one interception. What makes this tandem special, however, isn't that both could be first-round picks next May, it's that the defensive scheme puts them on an island every single play. And they both deliver. (left)
Marcus Roberson, Jr.
With Roberson earning second-team All-SEC preseason honors, Florida joins Oregon with two all-conference selection (1st and 2nd team) at cornerback. He had 23 tackles and two interceptions to go with 12 PBUs. (right).