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June 18, 2012

Position breakdown: Defensive backs

MORE: R100 Five-Star Challenge details

Rivals.com, the nation's leader in football recruiting coverage, is bringing 100 of the country's top prospects to participate in the inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. The free, invite-only camp for the nation's elite will feature 80 prospects from the 2013 class and 20 prospects from the 2014 class. Each position group is loaded, including the defensive backs, today's featured group.

Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge: Defensive Backs
Darius Allensworth, Romoland (Cali.) Heritage
Quin Blanding, Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside
Hatari Byrd, Fresno (Cali.) Central East
Antonio Conner, Batesville (Miss.) South Panola
Antwuan Davis, Bastrop, Texas
Noel Ellis, New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr
Holland Fisher, Midlothian (Va.) Manchester
Kendall Fuller Olney (Md.) Good Counsel
Tahaan Goodman, Rancho Cucamonga, Cali.
Marcell Harris, Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips
Chris Hawkins, Rancho Cucamonga, Cali.
Tony Brown, Beaumont (Texas) Ozen
Laurence Jones, Monroe (La.) Neville
Jourdan Lewis, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech
Leon McQuay III, Seffner (Fla.) Armwood
Kameron Miles, Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite
L.J. Moore, Fresno (Cali.) Central East
Michiah Quick, Fresno (Cali.) Central East
Jalen Ramsey, Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy
Jalen Tabor, Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate
Shaquille Wiggins, Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek
Eli Woodard, Vorhees (N.J.) Eastern
The star: Olney (Md.) Good Counsel cornerback Kendall Fuller is the nation's No. 3 prospect overall and could be pushing for the highest ranking ever at his position and possibly the first corner to be No. 1 overall in the country. This camp will go a long way toward determining that because the list of wide receivers is impressive and defensive backs are always at a disadvantage in one-on-one and 7-on-7 play. Everyone wants to go against Fuller. Will that targeting bring out the best in him or will he struggle against the best talent he's seen? Remember, this is a player who covered ex-teammate and 2012 five-star Stefon Diggs for years in practice. He should be able to handle the pressure.

The sleeper: Romoland (Cali.) Heritage cornerback Darius Allensworth is a late addition to the roster and is one of the few three-stars at the event. The nation's No. 43 cornerback chose Arizona over offers from UCLA, Colorado, Utah, Washington State and Wisconsin, but after a top performance at the SoCal Showcase, the feeling is that he was under-recruited. Allensworth is physical, uses his hands well, is confident and is quick to play the ball. He might not have the star power of others, but he could surprise.

Most versatile: Holland Fisher from Midlothian (Va.) Manchester will likely play some linebacker and some safety at the event and the Virginia Tech commitment could play either in college. Fisher is one of the most physically impressive kids you'll see at the safety position and he can cover, but ball skills have been questioned and his frame can carry linebacker weight. He wants to prove he can play safety but he is open to either and his versatility and willingness to do whatever it takes will be a big boost to the North team.

Keep an eye on: How about three players to keep an eye on because each is so close to five-star status that a great event could push them over the edge. Eli Woodard from Vorhees (N.J.) Eastern, Tahaan Goodman from Rancho Cucamonga, Cali., and Leon McQuay III from Seffner (Fla.) Armwood are all national top-40 prospects and each brings excellent ball skills, terrific instincts and outstanding athleticism to the table. They are all on different teams and some would say that cornerbacks, such as Woodard, have a tougher job in 7-on-7 play, but we will see. The one-on-ones will be a good indicator of who will have a great weekend and some big plays during the tournament could go a long way toward that big boost.

Battling for respect: Shaquille Wiggins from Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek is a high three-star commit to Georgia and had offers from powers such as Auburn, Clemson, Ohio State and others before he made his pledge. The skinny on Wiggins is that he's one of the best pure cover corners you'll see and he can dominate events like this, but he's just not very big. Wiggins wants to prove that he's one of the best in the country and that he is a sure-fire, four-star and he will be representing the Dawgs with fire and passion. He especially thrives on playing against taller, bigger receivers who people tell him he can't check.

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