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Best by position: Defense

Several college programs have bright futures at the various positions based on their current Class of 2012 commit lists. Here’s a look at the best by position on defense from across the country.

Five-star Mario Edwards, pictured here at Florida State's prospect camp, headlines an outstanding group of defensive linemen committed to the Seminoles.

Defensive end

Let’s just say this position is a win by a landslide. Florida State has three defensive ends committed, and while one is likely to end up on the interior, the Seminoles would still be in the top spot even with two commitments being considered.

Jimbo Fisher and staff have reeled in three of the best from around the country in Mario Edwards (Denton, Texas/Ryan), Chris Casher (Mobile, Ala./W.P. Davidson School) and Dante Fowler (Saint Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood).

Edwards, the No. 15 prospect in the country, is already 6-foot-3 and around 285 pounds with a body type that is likely to carry 300 pounds or more in time. The son of former Florida State and NFL corner Mario Edwards is a five-star prospect according to 247Sports with an overall rating of 98.
Joining the powerful and explosive Edwards in the Seminoles class is 6-foot-5, 240-pound Casher, the No. 31 prospect in the 2012 cycle with a 97 rating and the No. 43 prospect in Fowler, who has an overall rating of 96.

Deserving of mention at defensive end is Michigan, which has five commitments from possible ends. The Wolverines impressive class of ends is led by the No. 56 prospect in the class, Chris Wormley (Toledo, Ohio/Whitmer) and the247 member Tom Strobel (Mentor, Ohio).

Defensive tackle

The defensive tackle position is a tough call early on with five of the top six rated at the position yet to make commitments.

The Texas Longhorns get the early nod here with a commitment from five-star prospect Malcom Brown (Brenham, Texas), four-star Alex Norman (Dallas, Texas/Bishop Dunne) and high three-star Paul Boyette (Humble, Texas).

Texas defensive tackle commit Malcom Brown is one of the best in the country at his position.

Brown, 6-foot-2, 293-pounds with 4.8-speed, is the No. 19 prospects in the country with a 98 rating. Brown and Norman will play in the 2012 Under Armour All-America game in January.

On the heels of the Longhorns is the Seminoles, who are putting together one of the top defensive line hauls in quite sometime.

Florida State has commitments from Justin Shanks (Prattville, Ala.) an Dalvon Stuckey (Defuniak Springs, Fla./Walton). Shanks is the No. 199 ranked prospect in the class with a 93 rating, while the 6-foot-3, 298-pound Stuckey checks in at No. 207 with the same rating of 93. The duo is the Nos. 20 and 21 defensive tackle prospects in the country.

Florida State is also in the hunt for the top ranked defensive tackle prospect in the country, five-star Eddie Goldman (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy), the No. 3 overall prospect in America according to 247Sports.

Linebacker

Like defensive end, this one is pretty much cut and dry. The Alabama Crimson Tide easily have the top spot here with a trio of commitments from linebackers all in the top 150 prospects in the country.

The headliner of the group continues to be Reggie Ragland (Madison, Ala./Bob Jones). The 6-foot-4, 245-pound inside linebacker is the No. 47 ranked prospect in the country with an overall rating of 96. He is the top ranked inside linebacker in the class.

Not to be overshadowed is Dillon Lee (Buford, Ga.). The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is the No. 54 prospect in the class and the No. three outside linebacker prospect with a 247 Rating of 96. Lee is an excellent all around athlete and his versatility and tenacity make him an outstanding fit for the Tide defense.

Royce Jenkins-Stone is one of several Top247 linebackers committed to Michigan in the Class of 2012.

Outside linebacker Tyler Hayes (Thomasville, Ala.) round out the impressive trio. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound speedy prospect has an overall rating of 94, good for No. 142 in the country.

When one considers that five-star athlete Eddie Williams (Panama City Beach, Fla./Arnold) could grow into an outside linebacker with a 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame, the Crimson Tide’s future looks beyond bright at the position.

Like defensive end, Michigan also has an impressive class at linebacker. Inside linebacker James Ross (West Bloomfield, Mich./St. Mary’s Prep) is the No. 100 prospect in the class with a 95 rating, while outside prospect Royce Jenkins-Stone (Detroit, Mich./Cass Technical) checks in at No. 190 in the country with a 93 rating. Add in four-star Joe Bolden (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain) and high three-star Kaleb Ringer (Clayton, Ohio/Northmont) and the Wolverines have cleaned up in the Midwest at the position.

Florida and USC are also very strong at linebacker with two commitments each from members of the Top247.

Safety

The Florida Gators are the pick at here. Will Muschamp and staff have four commitments from safety prospects led by Marcus Maye (Melbourne, Fla./Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy) and Brian Poole (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast).

Maye is the No. 160 prospect in the country with a 94 rating, while Poole isn’t far behind at No. 164 with the same rating of 94. The talented duo is the No. seven and eight ranked safeties in the class.

Add in four-star Rhaheim Ledbetter (Shelby, NC/Crest) and three-star Willie Bailey (Hallandale, Fla.) and the Gators have both top tier talent and depth in the class at the position.

Florida commit Brian Poole is 190 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash consistently in the 4.5 range.

Texas A&M also has an impressive duo of safeties committed. Corey Thompson (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) is the No. 170 ranked prospect in the country with a 247 Rating of 93 and is joined in the class by four-star Kenneth Marshall (Houston, Texas/South Houston).

Tennessee, Ohio State and Stanford also have top safeties committed.
The big fish at the position, five-star Landon Collins (Geismar, La./Dutchtown) remains undecided. He will likely come down to a LSU-Alabama grudge match.

Cornerback

Another position that is a pretty easy decision in Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have a pair of commitments from two of the nations best in Tee Shepard (Fresno, Ca./Washington Union) and Ronald Darby (Oxon Hill, Md./Potomac).

Shepard, 6-foot-0, 173-pounds, excels in press coverage and is ranked No. 46 in the country. He has a 247 Rating of 96 and is the number four corner in the class. He is a high school teammate of fellow Notre Dame commitment Deontay Greenberry, who is also among top 50 prospects in the class nationally.

Darby is one of the fastest prospects in the country and is a world-class competitor in track and field. The 5-foot-11, 174-pound Darby is the No. 66 prospect in the country with a 96 rating.

Alabama jumped into the conversation with the recent commitment of the No. 32 prospect in the country, Geno Smith (Atlanta, Ga./St. Pius X). The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Smith is the number two ranked corner in the country and has a 247 Rating of 97.

The Crimson Tide also has a commitment from athlete Justin Thomas (Prattville, Ala.). The No. 93 ranked prospect in the 2012 class is probably headed for the defensive side of the ball with corner being a likely destination.

When looking at quantity, Miami’s class is worth noting. The Hurricanes have commitments from four cornerback prospects, including A.J. Leggett (Miami, Fla./South Miami Senior). Leggett is the No. 91 ranked player in the country with a 247 Rating of 95.

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