Sports in Kansas has compiled its list of 25 Defensive Backs (FS,CB,SS) to Watch for the upcoming 2017 season. List is alphabetical by last name (unless a combo pick) and is not a recruiting list. Our intention is also to try to cover every classification and every part of the state to make it a true overall list to watch in the state. Every year Chet Kuplen and Ben Mitchum compile lists to project who the states top players will be at the beginning of the season which is based on last years performance/stats, input from coaches/media, and recruiting/video highlights. Special thanks to Rack Performance for powering this list.
Keenan Baird, Silver Lake, 6-2 185 Sr.
Baird, a safety, has nice size and speed for the Eagles as he was one of the top juniors in 3A last season with five interceptions. He earned First Team All Non-Senior honors from Sports in Kansas. He has had 133 stops as a starter over the last two seasons.He is also a threat offensively with over 1,200 yards recieving in his career. Rossville has been the team at the top of 3A for the last three seasons but Baird and linebacker Josh Boyd will look to change that in 2017. Both of Baird’s brothers, Blake and Cole, were both all-state picks for the Eagles over the 2012 and 2015 football seasons. Also look for Trent Byers n the secondary for the Eagles who also had five interceptions last fall as a junior.
Neal Bever, Sedgwick, 5-11 150 Sr.
Bever isn’t a major recruit by any means but he is a very good small school defensive player. He led the state of Kansas with 10 interceptions last fall. His stats landed him a spot on the Sports in Kansas All Non-Senior Team in 2016. Bever is back with a loaded cast of players that make the Cardinals a contender on 2-1A West in 2017.
Austin Bond, Gardner Edgerton, 6-0 180 Sr.
Bond had 96 tackles, an interception and forced two fumbles last fall for the Trailblazers at strong safety. He also blocked a field goal and registered over double digit tackles in six games in 2016. The EKL is loaded and Bond put up some big numbers in the league a year ago.
Ekow Boye-Doe, Lawrence, 6-1 170 Sr.
Boye-Doe has emerged as one of the state’s top prospects for 2018 this summer with offers from both Kansas State and Kansas. He has nice size at the corner position with elite 4.4 range speed. He also has nice strength at a 250-pound bench and a 37-inch vertical. He was an All-Sunflower League honorable mention pick a season ago for the Chesty Lions.
Nick Channel, Kapaun, 6-1 205 Sr.
Channel could be a breakout player to watch at the strong safety position this fall for the Crusaders. He has great size at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds with nice 4.50-4.60 range in the 40. Channel also gets it done in the weight room with a 300-pound bench. Last season he was a second team All-City League pick as a junior.
Dalton Cross, Valley Center, 5-9 165 Sr.
Cross was a first team All AVCTL-II pick last season for the Hornets who finished 9-2. Cross was big in the turnover game as he picked off five passes last season and had 44 tackles from his cornerback position.
Luke Evans, Bishop Carroll, 6-2 185 Sr.
Evans will look to lead the Eagles on a deep run in 5A after registering 54 tackles from his safety position last fall. The Wichita area is loaded with defensive backs in 2017 and Evans is one of those. He earned second team All GWAL last season for the Golden Eagles.
Jared Flood, Aquinas, 5-10 165 Sr. & Jayden Russell, Aquinas, 6-1 180 Jr.
Flood should be one of the premier defensive playmakers in 5A this season after registering 69 tackles and nine pass breakups last fall for the Saints. If he is used as a running back, he will also be a big threat for STA. Russell is one of the top recruits in Kansas for 2019 after landing several offers this past year. He is looking for a breakout year on the football field in 2017 after getting his feet wet in 2016. Russell will figure to play corner this season but is being projected as a safety at the next level.
Colton Hutchinson, Smith Center, 5-9 155 Sr.
Hutchinson was a first team All 2-1A pick last year as a junior and if the Redmen can win a 2-1A title this fall, a big reason will be Hutchinson. He had 94 stops and an interception a year ago for the Redmen. Hutchinson is a tough nosed defensive back that was the 3-2-1A state runner-up in wrestling at the 145-pound class last winter. He also doubles as the quarterback on offense. He also took fourth in the javelin in 2A last spring in track and field.
Keshawn Howell, Wichita Heights, 5-10 175 Sr.
Howell is an athletic defensive back that can be a lock down corner or play safety. He has 4.6 speed and a 32-inch vertical. Heights is a team to look for on 5A west and Howell will be a playmaker in Wichita this season.
Cameron Key, Bishop Miege, 5-10 170 Sr.
Key is an exceptional athlete at the cornerback position and will be one of the top defensive backs in the state for 2017. Gone are Colbert and Weber, so now its Key’s turn at a breakout senior season. He has 4.50-4.60 forty-yard dash speed and was the state triple jump champion in 4A this spring. Key has a vertical leap of 36 inches. Also expect Key to get some help from Jasir Cox, a Raytown South transfer, who will immediately help the Stags defense.
Peyton Lane, Clay Center, 5-10 170 Sr.
Lane registered 125 tackles last season over 10 games for an average of 12.5 per contest from his safety position. Expect Lane to be one of the top defensive playmakers in 4A-II this season.
Drew Labertew, McPherson,6-3 180 Sr., Ben Nikkel McPherson, 6-0 175 Sr. & Gunnar Reiss, McPherson, 6-0 180 Sr.
It’s hard to put one on and keep the other two off, so McPherson gets a trio pick from its loaded defensive backfield in 2017. Labertew, who had 60 tackles, was a first team AVTCL-III pick last season at defensive back while Nikkel was a second team pick at corner. The AVTCL-III returns some of the best defensive backs in the state for 2017 as the league is also loaded with talent. Reiss also had a huge year at safety as he registered 48 tackles and has great size at 6’1”, 180-pounds. McPherson returns what looks to be one of the best defenses in 4A-I.
Quinton LaPointe, Garden City, 5-11 185 Sr., David Arteaga, Garden City, 5-8 165 Sr. & Garett Doll, Garden City, 6-0 170 Sr.
When all three returning defensive backs for GC earned All-WAC first team as juniors in 2016 they all get on as a trio pick. LaPointe is a weight room warrior with a squat of 545 pounds and a bench of 300-pounds. He will be one of the top defenders in Western Kansas this fall and features 4.60 speed from his strong safety position. LaPointe also features a 35-inch vertical. He had 52 tackles and three interceptions last fall. Arteaga, a senior corner, had 41 tackles last fall, eight pass deflections and picked off two passes for the Buffaloes. Doll was a first team all-league pick at free safety last season round out this trio that went 9-1 last season. He is also one of the top distance runners in Kansas in the 1600 meters. GC has had success recently, however you have to go outside of WAC competition to contend in 6A, can the Buffaloes make a move to prove they can be a deep 6A playoff contender?
Chris Logan, Blue Valley Southwest, 5-11 200 Sr.
Logan can play outside backer or safety and earned All-EKL first team honors as a defensive back in 2017. Southwest had some bright spots in 2016 and look to build off of that in 2017. Look for a nice year for Logan.
Colton Lumpkins, Maize, 5-11 175 Sr.
Lumpkins was an honorable mention All-5A pick last fall for the Eagles and should be one of the top corners in the AVCTL-I this season. He was a first team All AVTCL-I pick last fall for Maize.
Jordan Mayfield, BV North, 6-3 225 Sr.
Mayfield can be classified as a defensive back or linebacker from his strong safety and outside backer positions. He will be part of a loaded group to return for BV North in 2017. The more and more you start to look at returnees, you get why there has been some hype on the BVN program recently. The turnaround Andy Sims has done so fast is very impressive. Mayfield also gets it done in the weight room with a 325 bench and has 4.7-4.8 speed carrying 225 pounds from his SS position.
Tanner Moore, Mill Valley, 6-2 180 Jr.
Moore had a breakout junior year with four interceptions for the back-to-back 5A champion Jaguars. He was named the best defensive back at the USA Developmental Football Camp this summer. He has elite speed with 4.49-4.55 range and could generate a division one offer after this upcoming season with a big year. He will get another chance to prove himself against top notch wide outs and quarterbacks in the best league in Kansas (EKL).
Ian McSwain, Goddard, 5-11 160 Sr. & Cole Carraway, Goddard, 5-8 175 Sr.
McSwain was one of the best defensive backs in 5A last season from his safety position, earning first team All-5A honors. He had seven interceptions for the 2016 state runner-up Lions. He will be relied upon heavily to lead the Goddard defense in 2017. He was a first team All Non-Senior pick from Sports in Kansas in 2016. Carraway, a strong safety, had 64 tackles and three interceptions on the way to earning honorable mention All-5A as a junior.
Eric Olson, Blue Valley, 5-10 170 Jr. & Owen Olson, Blue Valley, 6-4 195 Sr.
Eric, a junior this season, had 91 tackles as a starter on the 6A runner-up team a year ago in a loaded league of defensive backs. Eric patrolled the secondary at free safety last season and could be one of the top junior defensive backs in Kansas this fall. Owen, a senior this season, had 88 tackles and an interception for the Tigers last fall. Owen can be classified as either a strong safety or outside backer for the Tigers as he can defend the run and the pass. Both will be depended on heavily after Blue Valley was hit big by graduation but the Tigers aren’t going anywhere with a loaded junior class in 2017.
Tevin Petrie, Norton, 5-10 185 Sr. & Jace Ruder, Norton, 6-3 205 Sr.
Petrie should be one of the top two-way players this year for Class 3A. Norton returns Jace Ruder and Petrie to help the Bluejays try to make a run in 2017. Petrie didn’t put up big stats last year on defense as he carried more of the load on offense, but they will need him to have a year like he did as a sophomore in which he registered 91 tackles and had six interceptions. Petrie also has 2,121 rushing yards at running back over the last three seasons combined. Ruder may be called upon defensively as well and arguably a position he could have been heavily recruited in if he decided to play defensive back instead of QB with his 4.45 speed. He has 86 tackles combined over last two seasons.
Dexton Swinehart, Lyndon, 5-10 160 Sr.
Swinehart has been one of the top small school players since his sophomore year, earning all-state in each of his last two seasons. He does it all with 4,265 combined yards (rushing or receiving) on offense in his career with 50 touchdowns. He shines just as good on defense with 209 career tackles and six interceptions. Lyndon will be a contender on 2-1A East and Swinehart will be the reason. If he needs to Swinehart can play SS, FS, CB or OLB. On offense he can play RB, WR, QB. Like we said last year, he does everything but drive the bus to the away games.
Jack Wagner, Maize South, 6-0 175 Sr. & Tyler White, Maize South, 6-0 170 Sr.
Maize South is loaded in the defensive backfield with two all-state caliber players. Wagner had over 100 tackles and three interceptions last fall, while White, who had six interceptions, was a first team all-state pick as well as a Sports in Kansas All Non-Senior as a junior last fall. The Mavericks are known for their defense and the two will look to lead the group again in 2017.
Clay Westbrooks, Augusta, 6-1 180 Sr.
The AVTCL-III is loaded with defensive backs and Westbrooks is one of those. He had six interceptions in just 10 games for the Orioles last fall.
Daiken Stallbaumer, Hanover, 6-1 175 Jr., Lane Peters, Pike Valley, 5-9 165 Sr., Tate Busse, St. Francis, 6-3 175 Sr., Alex Barton, Central Plains, 6-3 180 Sr., Collin Kisner, Victoria, 6-3 170 Sr.
Several 8-man Players get a nod as one of the 25 picks because it was too hard to leave off any of these guys as all do different things for their teams. The majority on this list are big time athletes, getting it done in multiple sports in this state. Stallbaumer earned his right on this list by picking off 10 passes to lead the 8-man ranks as a sophomore last fall for the 8M-II state champion Wildcats. Hanover is always hit with graduation but always seems to reload, look for a big year again for the junior defensive back. Peters is one of the fastest players in the state with his 10.77 100-meter dash speed winning the 1A title last fall as a junior. Not only did he have a big year in track he has been having big years in football since a freshman. He is more known for a running back with over 3,800 career yards that rushed for over 1,400 last year but also had two interceptions and 85 tackles at his defensive back spot. Peters has scored 75 touchdowns in his career with one season left to play. Look for Pike Valley to contend in 8M-II. Peters may play 8-man, but he could be an all-state caliber player at any level in Kansas with his elite speed. Busse is one of the better small school multi-sport kids in Kansas as one of the top 1A-I basketball players, a top receiver and defensive back in 8M-I and part of state championship relay squads in 1A. He has great size and speed at the defensive back position and will be a playmaker to watch this season in Western Kansas. Barton is a threat at receiver and defensive back for the Oilers. He will be one of the top 8-man players in all of Kansas for the 2017 season. He had eight interceptions last fall to rank first among all 8-man players that were juniors. He’s also a threat with it after the INT as he had 261 return yards on those eight interceptions. Kisner is a big time athlete with a lot of speed for his 6-foot-3 frame. He should be one of the top two way players in 8-man this fall as he looks to lead the Knights on a deep run. He was the 1A state champion in the 400 and also places in the top three in the 200 and 100 meters.
Others to Watch:
Dalton Miller – Great Bend, Cameron Cox - Hesston, Dylan Brown – Buhler, Phillip Landrum – Wichita South, Devante King – Junction City, Jalin Harper – Manhattan, Jack Burke – Chaparral, Cody McNerney – Collegiate, Carlin Springsteel – Washington County, Tyler Cummings – Washburn Rural, Mitchell Lady – Shawnee Hts, Jake Wilbert – Frontenac, Blair Hoffman – Dighton, Grant Richey – Caney,, Javon Parrish – Olathe North, Brady Ricke – A&A, Nate Henehea – Central Christian, Trae Rathgeber – South Barber, Xavior Green – Olathe East, Damon Schmidt – Olpe, Billy Conaway – SM North, Kade Miller – Osborne, Dalton Kraus – Halstead, Tyrone Moore – KC Washington, Brett Nelson – Mulvane, Parker Bruce – Andale, AJ Hausler – Holton, Cody Wallis – Rose Hill, Tre Munoz – Shawnee Heights, Teagan Schoenfield – St. Marys, Ty Cooper – Wamego, Trent Byers - Silver Lake, Kolby Murphy – Olathe South, Matt Keller – Wamego, Williams Gavin – Schlagle, Tristan Knoblauch – Maize South, Mitchell Hamlin – Hugoton, Travis Theis – Pratt, Cameron Mitchell – Columbus, Trenton Jones – Conway Springs, Mitchell Henry – Nemaha Central, Trevor Raida – Cherryvale, Federico Harvey – Campus, Lakin Petz – Cheney, Brady Holliday – Jackson Heights, Cevin Clark – Ark City, Bo Gooch – Belle Plaine, Colton Noonan – Burlingame, Jeremy Berg- South Gray, Evan Rice – Mill Valley, Peyton Harvey – Little River, Garret Hall - Galena, Jamison Phelps – Olathe South, Noah Hansen – Plainville, Lane Harvey – Chanute, Anton Reeves – Pike Valley, Waylon Strecker – Spearville, Khai Hernandez – Lakin, Nathan Peltzer – Maur Hill,Cade Miller – West Elk, Brayden Brummer – DeSoto, Ben Driver – Salina Central, Cameron Harvey – Campus, Mason Bell - Spring Hill, Gavin Elston – Eudora, J.C. Watson – Basehor Linwood, Tyler Halstead – Riley Co., Anthony Cahill – Jeff North, Cooper Williams – Jackson Hts, Jessie Lawrence – Fort Scott, Jaylen Logan – Coffeyville, Gunnar Brown – Fort Scott, Isaiah Wright – SM East, Joel Kafka – Pittsburg, Keyln Bolton – SM East, Keaton Markley – Hays, Marshall Faurot – Scott City, Zach Hart – Colby.