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Sports in Kansas: 25 Defensive Backs to Watch for 2018

Scott Valentas is one of the top recruits in Kansas for 2018. (photo: Chet Kuplen)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Aug 31, 2018

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Several DB's return after having big seasons in 2017. Check out who to watch in 2018. This lists main purpose is to represent the entire state from every class. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we will do this position by position. Chet Kuplen, Managing Partner of Sports in Kansas, and Ben Mitchum, Sports in Kansas contributor, compile lists and evaluate players every year for every position which help compile this finalized list. This is not a recruiting list or prospect list and players are not ranked or in any special order.This list is powered by Rack Performance and Nex-Tech Wireless. Be on the lookout for our postseason honors after the 2018 season on who will be the Top 100 seniors in Kansas and who will make the Sports in Kansas All Non-Senior Team. If you ever have a player that you think we should take a look at be sure to DM @sportsinkansas or sportsinkansas@gmail.com

Carlos Acosta 5-10 170, Garden City Jr. CB & 6-1 190 Kaleb LaPointe, Garden City Sr. SS

Acosta was a first team All Western Athletic Conference defensive back with 35 tackles, 6 interceptions and a pair of fumble recoveries.  He was also 6A honorable mention all-state. 

LaPointe chipped in 47 tackles, 2 interceptions and a pair of fumble recoveries himself. The Buffaloes defense looks to be a strong point this season once again and look for these two to be a big reason for that success.

Kyle Alcanter 6-0 175, Basehor-Linwood Sr. FS

Alcanter looks to lead a Bobcat defense that lost a bulk of it’s front seven from this past season.  The 4A-I honorable mention free safety had 6 interceptions last fall for Head Coach Rod Stallbaumer. 

Malik Berry 6-3 215, Lawrence Free State Jr. SS & Keenan Garber 6-0 175, Lawrence Free State Sr. FS

Garber is a Kansas State verbal commit who was a two-way second team all league pick last season for the Firebirds.  It is still unknown which side of the ball he will play at the next level.

Berry Looks to be the quarterback the season for Free State but also has been a very productive safety as well. Will be interesting to see how much defense he plays this coming fall but if he does, he looks the part of a future FCS/FBS prospect. 

Javontez Brime 6-1 170, Junction City Sr. CB

Brime is the top returning tackler for the Blue Jays with 35 stops this past season. He is able to play all throughout the secondary, having played both cornerback and safety in his career. 

Jacob Blindt 5-9 185, Topeka West St. CB, Tyce Brown 6-0 180, Shawnee Heights Sr. FS & Jaylen Carter 5-10 170, Washburn Rural Jr. CB 

Blindt is the defensive leader for the Chargers, earning a spot on the All-City defensive team and second-team All-Centennial League recognition this past fall. 

Brown earned All-City honorable mention after recording 51 tackles and 6 interceptions  for the T-Birds. He played linebacker last season but transitioning over to free safety this fall. Also excels on the basketball court. 

Carter is a returning starter on both sides of the ball for the Junior Blues. He received All-Centennial League honorable mention on both sides of the ball as a sophomore and also received All-City honorable mention.  He rushed for 498 yards this past season offensively. 

Rashaun Burney 6-0 195, Shawnee Mission East Sr. SS & Isaiah Wright 6-0 195 Shawnee Mission East Sr. CB

Burney had 48 stops last season for the Lancers.  A sure tackler from his strong safety position.  He is also a quality running back and should excel in Head Coach Justin Hoover’s wide open offense. 

Wright was the Sunflower Leagues defensive player of the year last season. Considered one of the very best corners in all of Kansas, Wright also excels at Track and Field. He should definitely be a prospect to keep your eye on going forth this season. 

Jake Burke 6-2 200, Chaparral Sr. FS

Burke Is a two-way star who was 1st team all league and a honorable mention all-state defensive back.  He has started on defense since midway through his freshman year. 

Offensively he threw for nearly 1000 yards and rushed for over 500. He had 18 offensive touchdowns last season.

Cai Calvert, Salina South Sr. DB, Migc Aiyanyor, Derby, Sr. DB

Calvert was an honorable mention all 5A pick one year ago and will look to lead a South defense that also features Isaac Mitchell and Jayden Miller that should be much improved. He also earned first team all conference. Migc was a second team all-conference pick and has transferred to Derby who is also in the conference for his senior year after playing at Salina Central.

Hunter Carpenter 6-0 170, Shawnee Mission South Sr. FS

Carpenter is a physical and rangy safety who excels on both sides of the football. Highly productive at running back along with Marquez Briscoe but looks more the part of a future college free safety.

He was a 2nd team All-Sunflower League defensive back last season.

Caden Cox 5-10 195, Maize Jr. SS

Known more as a running back (over 1,000 total offensive yards), Cox also excels as a strong safety for the Eagles.  He has 43 tackles as a sophomore.

Cox is very athletic defender that is well put together.  He is already getting FBS/FCS looks entering his junior year. 

Treyvon Gilyard 6-0 170, Shawnee Mission West Jr. FS

Gilyard is a physical in the box type of safety.  West had him playing up near the line of scrimmage a lot.  He had 49 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries this past season. 

Gilyard is a interesting player to keep an eye on for the next two seasons as he physically develops.

Marshall Faurot 6-1 175 Sr. Scott City DB

Maybe the top athlete on this list as he is a 6’6” high jumper, sub 15 hurdler, and 16’0” pole vaulter in track and field. He was also an all-state selection in 3A last season. He doubles as a WR and will form one of the better defenses in 3A with all-state defensive end Wyatt Hayes.

Tayte Halderman, Sedan Jr., Samuel Livingston, Pretty Praire Sr., Kolby Setin, Spearville Sr. Adam Albertini, St. Paul Jr.

Halderman had nine interceptions last year to lead the 8-man ranks as did Livingston. These should be two of the better defensive backs in the 8-man ranks. Stein is also back after earning all-state in 8M-I last season and is one of the best two-way players in the class. Albertini is one of those guys you can do a little bit of everything with. While he doesn’t have big size, he’s very strong at 5’8” 160-pounds and can play defensive back, linebacker, returns kicks, quarterback, receiver or running back. He will be one of the more exciting players in 8M-II.

Cameron Harvey 5-10 160, Campus Sr. CB

Harvey was a first team all league performer on the defensive side of the ball but is looked upon to be a much bigger factor on the offensive side this coming season.

Regardless of where you put him on the field, his athletic attributes and play making abilities in space makes him a tough match-up.

Jai Haynes 5-8 150, Olathe South Sr. CB

Haynes is not the biggest corner in the state but he plays much bigger with his physical nature.  Also he has been clocked with a 4.5 forty at a combine this summer.

He was honorable mention all league in the Sunflower League this past year.

Hunter Igo, Derby Sr. FS, Dax Benway, Derby Sr. DB

Igo can do a lot of things and is one of the toughest players in the state. The senior utility player figures to take an even bigger role on defense in 2018. Benway is back after receiving second team all league honors last season as the Panthers took 6A runner-up.

Brendan Ishimura 6-0 175, Frontenac Sr. CB

Ishimura had eight interceptions for the Frontenac Raiders last year as they took second in 4A-II. The Raider who are now in the new 3A will depend heavily on him as a senior at both receiver and defensive back. Ishimura ran a 4.5 40 this summer and also runs sub 50 in the 400-meter dash taking third in 4A last season. He is one of the most underrated players in the state.

Joel Kafka 6-2 180, Pittsburg Sr. SS 

All state track and field athlete for the Purple Dragons. Kafka is a athletic safety that is a three year starter. 

Pittsburg has been blessed with some very good secondary players as of late and Kafka continues that tradition. 

Tim Lambert Jr. 6-2 165, Smoky Valley Sr. FS

Lambert is one of the fastest players in state regardless of classification. This past season he had a exceptional state track meet. He won the 100, 200 and 300 hurdles. Ran a 10.82 in 100, 22.11 in the 200 and 37.95 in the 300 hurdles. He broke the state record in the prelims when he ran a 37.85 300 hurdles and a 21.76 200. 

He had 62 tackles defensively and on offense he had a very solid year carrying the ball and receiving.  

Deland McCullough 6-1 175, Blue Valley North Sr. FS & Kendall Hargens 6-1 180, Blue Valley North Sr.  FS

McCullough is the son of one of the Kansas City Chiefs offensive assistants (running backs). He has also already verbally committed to Miami-Ohio this past summer.  Last season he played in the biggest classification in California at Sierra High.  Not only will he provide a dynamic defender but also a big time target for Cameron Mertz offensively. 

Hargens on the other hand reruns after having a all-state season for the Mustangs.  He had 71 Tackles, 3 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles this past season. 

Dalton Miller 6-0 170, Great Bend Jr. FS, Blake Penka, 6-0 200, Great Bend Sr. DB

Miller is one of the more productive defenders in the state. Last season he had 117 tackles, 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries for the Panthers as a sophomore. Penka was a first team All-WAC selection. The two are two of the 10 starters who return for the Panther defense in 2018.

Miller has been a tackling machine his first two seasons and it will be interesting to see if he breaks Payton Mauler’s (Fort Hays State) school record for tackles when all is said and done. 

Tanner Moore 6-2 185, Mill Valley Sr. FS

Moore is one of the better defenders in the whole state.  The 5A all-starter had 91 tackles, 1 interception and 2 forced fumbles this past fall for the ever impressive Jaguars. 

Mill Valley plays him at either free safety or strong safety making him a tough player to game plan for. 

Eric Olson 6-0 185, Blue Valley Sr. FS

Olson is a very good two way player and last fall he had 91 tackles, 3 interceptions and 800 total offensive yards.  

He shares the offensive backfield with yet another two way stud in Alex Totta. 

Olson could really rise up the recruiting boards with a strong senior season. 

Jayden Russell 6-3 190, St. Thomas Aquinas Sr. SS

A definite FBS prospect, Russell has offers from 10 FBS/FCS programs, with both in-state schools offering.  

Russell is a long athletic corner/safety that is arguably the states top defensive back prospect. Also remember the name Terrence Collins a junior and sophomore Elias Carson. Both should pop on the map of DBs to watch for Aquinas this year and next.

Jaylen Scruggs 5-9 180, Bishop Miege Sr. CB & Ty'Quez Agnew-Whitten 6-1 205, Bishop Miege Jr. FS

Scruggs is one of the more underrated defensive backs in the state. Miege is always loaded in the secondary and both Scruggs and Agnew-Whitten had to wait their turn to be the man. 

Both players posses FCS or higher potential. Agnew-Whitten could also see plenty of time on offense this coming fall. Don’t let Scruggs height fool you as well.

Daiken Stallbaumer 6-2 175, Hanover Sr. CB

Stallbaumer had a huge sophomore season defensively where he had 10 interceptions (13 career) but last season the numbers dropped off drastically. With that said, he now had control of the Wildcats offense as the quarterback taking over for record setter Will Bruna. He rushed for 645 yards, threw for 1,018 yards and had 34 offensive touchdowns as a junior. 

He was a 1st-team all-state selection this past season. 

Travis Theis 5-9 193, Pratt Sr. DB

While Theis does it all on offense and figures to play quarterback in 2018 he is also a starter in the secondary for Pratt, earning First Team CKL last season. He can chase down anything with his 4.4 speed.

Tajahn Thomas 5-11 170, Coffeyville-Field Kindley Sr. CB, Caleb Hentzen 5-8 170 Jr. Labette County DB, Davonte Yates Parsons 6-2 170 Sr. DB

Thomas is a very athletic corner that has gone under the radar even though all league and all-state.  Runs a 4.5 forty and has a mid 30’s vertical jump.He had 45 catches for 621 yards, 10 touchdowns and defensively had 6 interceptions this past season as a junior. Thomas along with Jaylen Logan and C.J. Kelley, you have quite the set of athlete at Coffeyville. Hentzel and Yates are exceptional track and field athletes with Hentzen a 6-foot-8 high jumper and Yates one of the top triple jumpers in Kansas. Hentzen is a lock down lights out defensive back for the Grizzlies. They should be exceptional athletes in the Southeast Kansas area for 2018. Parsons also has Dariq Williams, DaQuan Johnson and Gage Freiss in a loaded secondary. 

Davian Vigil 6-2 185, Hutchinson Sr. CB

Vigil is a long athletic cornerback who also excels on the offensive side of the ball at wide receiver. Once considered a basketball player, Vigil’s college ticket is on the gridiron.

The Salthawks will depend heavily on Vigil’s production this coming fall. He runs a reported 4.45 forty and is a sub 11.0 100 meter kid. 

Scott Valentas 6-3 185, Kapaun Sr. SS 

Valentas was getting some early FBS looks but ended up verbally committing to Columbia.  The Lions have done very well in the state of Kansas the last few years. 

He has played both outside linebacker and safety for the Crusaders. Will be interesting to see what position Columbia plays him in the coming years. Physical but yet athletic enough to play coverage. May make a good in the box safety or a outside linebacker in college. 

Honestee Whittker 6-3 195, McPherson Sr. SS

Whittker was a part of a loaded secondary for the Bullpups but much of it graduated.  Though a strong nucleus return with Chan Wiard and Kaleb Hoppes also returning from seeing plenty of minutes last season. 

Whittker is a strong physical safety who has already received a Southern Nazarene offer. 

Other Returnees to Watch:

Austin Price (Russell), Landon Davis (Winfield), Montana Giffin (Burlingame), Jaxon Eddy (Inman), Tim Schoepflin (Free State), Yan Keuwo (Blue Valley SW), Kaleb Hoppes (McPherson), Chan Wiard (McPherson), Elian Prieto (Elkhart), Kordan Harris (St. Thomas Aquinas), Terrence Collins (St. Thomas Aquinas),  Harjot Singh (Mill Valley), Cameron Cox (Hesston), Dax Benway (Derby), Kendall Brewer (KC Schlagle)Eli Midyett (Mill Valley), Ben Hanson (Mill Valley), Kaden Roy (Goddard-Eisenhower), Nic Cinotto (Goddard-Eisenhower), Keaton Markley (Hays), Trevion Mitchell (Maize South), Jamir Johnson (Wichita Heights), Tyler Gorman (Ft. Scott), Dalton Colvin (Ft. Scott), Brannon Nordstedt (Burlington), Cael Johnson (Burlington), Jaylynn Liggons (Manhattan), Brandon Colston (Chapman), Mason Perez (Larned),  Derek Mosher (Jefferson West), Dalton Kellum (Perry-Lecompton), Joe Garber (Sabetha), Tre Miller (Topeka Hayden), Zach Vance (Wellsville), Conor Haviland (Humboldt), Nathan Moon (Phillipsburg), Tristan Stoner (Silver Lake), Colby Benoit (Smith Center), Devin Ryan (Central Plains), Jordan Raby (St. Francis), Blair Hoffman (Dighton), Kade Melvin (Norton), Nicholas Gift (Stafford), Kaleb Hammeke (Wichita Trinity), Kaden Evert (Pratt), Cole Coggins (South Barber), Lane Harvey (Chanute), Caden Bach (Northern Valley), Tanner Schrag (Nickerson), Corbin Rice (Cldwell), Cade Cohorst (Hanover), Anton Foust (Otis Bison), Colby Benoit (Smith Center), Trenton Plinsky (Osage City), Jace Wilson (Oswego), Ray Lewis (Olathe East), Ty Nelson (Riley County), Lane Peter (BV Randolph), Blake Harnden (A&A), Rhylee Welchel (Rock Hills), Jacob Taylor (Andover Central), Thomas Atkins (Hanover), Ethan Jellison (South Central), Cael Johnson (Burlington), Kade Miller (Osborne), Ty Cooper (Wamego), Gavin Cullor (Prairie View), Connor Haviland (Humboldt), Derek Roever (Marysville), Mason Perez (Larned), Cal Marquardt (Colgan), J.C. Shelton (Galena), Drake Steinbrock (Clifton Clyde), Brody Carlgren (Pike Valley), Blair Hoffman (Dighton), Jamir Johnson (Wichita Heights),Bryant Richard (Wichita Heights), Cale Blasi (Carroll), Xavier Sellers (Wichita West), Tayezahn Crough (Hutchinson), Davian Vigil (Hutchinson), Jacob Taylor (Andover Central), Ceeytn Anderson (Augusta), Deandre Washington (Wellington), Drew Ellis (Mulvane), Zack Mercer (Conway Springs), Treyton Peterson (Ell-Saline), Jacob Blindt (Topeka West), DeAndre Anderson (Topeka), Keandre Smith (Topeka), Jaylen Carter (Washburn Rural), Shane Bergemann (Blue Valley), Terrence Collins (Aquinas), Elias Carson (Aquinas), James Grooms (Olathe East), Savior Green (Olathe East), Devin Stoker (Olathe North), Jai Haynes (Olathe South), Zach Bush (SM North), Sam Macklin (SM South), Sebastian Garcia (SM West), Will Humphreys (SM West), Gavin Elston (Eudora), Carlos Gamboa (Dodge City), Keaton Markley (Hays),Gage Freiss (Parsons), Dariq Williams (Parsons)