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Insider

Florida loaded with talented 2018 defensive backs

The state of Florida might not necessarily be known for producing an overabundance of big-time quarterbacks or offensive linemen, but the fourth-most populous state is certainly known for producing elite defensive backs.

Deion Sanders, Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie, Jenoris Jenkins, Reggie Nelson, Sean Taylor and Vernon Hargreaves III are just a handful of defensive backs from the state of Florida that were selected in the first round of the NFL draft.

The 2018 defensive back class from Florida might end up being one of the best in recent memory. While there are no guarantees and recruiting rankings are an educated guess, there certainly seems to be an abundance of elite talent at defensive back in the Sunshine State this season.

There are 14 cornerbacks or safeties ranked in the ESPN Junior 300 from Florida. For comparison sake, there were eight ESPN 300 defensive backs (excluding three ESPN 300 DBs from IMG Academy who transferred in from out-of-state for their senior seasons) from the state of Florida in 2017 and only six in 2016.

The group of talented 2018 defensive backs is led by five-star prospects Patrick Surtain Jr., son of former NFL star Patrick Surtain, and Tyreke Johnson.

Surtain, the ninth-ranked prospect in the country, said this could go down as one of the best defensive back classes to come out of Florida in a while.

“The class of 2018 DBs in Florida is special,” Surtain said. “It is one of the best classes ever and it is filled with so much talent. Everyone is college ready.”

When asked whom Surtain would compare his game to, the 6-foot-2, 192-pound prospect from American Heritage in Plantation, Florida, didn’t hesitate to answer.

“I would compare my game to Patrick Peterson,” he said. “We are both fast, athletic and both of us are playmakers.”

While Surtain could be biased with his opinion, one anonymous SEC assistant agreed with the South Florida defensive back.

“This group of defensive backs stands out because of how many players possess the speed and explosion to cover at an elite level, as well as the size to play a physical game with wide receivers,” the assistant said.

Just how many elite college defensive backs this group of prospects from Florida will produce remains to be seen. Only time will tell if a Surtain, Johnson or an under the radar prospect will end up being the next Deion Sanders.

Rankings are one thing, but producing at a high level in major college football is a completely different stage altogether. One thing is clear though, Florida is known as producing some of the best defensive backs in the country, and the state didn’t appear to disappoint for the 2018 class.

“In years past, there hasn’t been such an elite group all coming out of one area,” the SEC coach said. “This talented class has been on the radar for a lot of colleges for a while.”