Top DB Halls of Collegiate Football: Georgia, Texas A&M is full of high school talent entering the 2022 season

With seven defensive tackles in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, including two linebackers in the top four, it’s clear that defensive backside talent is in demand at the highest level in football. Things are no different in the college game, where the weakest minor teams are often associated with the most successful teams in the country.

National champion Georgia tied for eighth place nationally with 16 interceptions last season, while Cincinnati became the first five-team team ever to reach the College Football Extension thanks to its defense that tied for third with 19 interceptions. Meanwhile, the forces of Big Ten West Iowa and Wisconsin have used excellent defense and great interception rates to overcome weak offensive campaigns and solid postseason.

As the 2022 season approaches, there’s a new batch of defensive stars to get to know in college football. Of the eight databases represented on the 2021 CBS Sports All-American first and second team teams, six are now in the NFL. Cornback Riley Moss of Iowa and Jordan’s Safety of the Battle of Alabama are the two returnees.

Some of the best defensive backrooms in the country are predictable to anyone who follows the team’s recruiting rankings. But two of the top 10 minor teams entering the season have produced them with impressive internal development. So what are the best DB rooms? Let’s break them down.

1. Georgia

Georgia ranked 13th nationally in passing defense last season, allowing only 190.9 yards per game in the air. This was particularly impressive because opponents were broadcasting it while playing usually from behind. Even with some attrition, this should be an elite group once again, led by elite linebacker Kelly Ringo. The Redshirt’s sophomore student and former No. 1 corner of the 2020 class was recently predicted to be the No. 4 pick in the early 2023 NFL draft simulation by CBS Sports expert Ryan Wilson. If West Virginia transferee Tiki Smith can get back to his new level for 2020 after picking up an injury last season, it would solidify Georgia’s case to be at the top.

The Aggies have fewer ex-five-star prospects in the high school than their SEC counterparts in Alabama and Georgia, but they boast plenty of experience at the back end. Considering that A&M only allowed 192.7 yards per game through the air last season, that’s a good thing. If Jardin Gilbert or Bryce Anderson – both former potential four-stars – can qualify for Leon O’Neill’s tiered safety, the Aggies may only improve in the secondary during the 2022 season.

3. Iowa

After leading the nation with 25 interceptions last season, Iowa State brought back American cornerback Riley Moss. With Jemarl Harris and Kaevon Merriweather also returning after retaining major roles in 2021, this group is sure to be stingy again. A must-see is real newcomer Xavier Nwankpa, Iowa’s highest rated defensive back in the 247Sports era. Even if he needs some time to develop, there is enough here to make this group one of the best in the country once again.

ACC is stacked with quality backers and high-quality offenses, so Wolfpack might not end up with the most statistically dominant passing defense in the country. But you won’t find a unit better equipped to handle the challenge than the North Carolina State group anchored by seniors Tanner Engel, Derek Bates Jr., Cyrus Fagan and Tyler Baker-Williams.

Junior Cornback Joey Porter Jr. is getting some early hype in the first round of the 2023 NFL Championship after busting onto the scene as a red-shirt rookie for a miserly pass defense at Penn State last season. The Nittany Lions lost a safe nail at Jaquan Brisker but returned to Ji’Ayir Brown after blocking six assists last season. Calin King in the second corner also looks set to shine after a solid freshman campaign.


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