CIK Season Preview: Defensive Backs to Watch

Andale's Eli Rowland projects as one of the state's top two-way players in 2020
Andale's Eli Rowland projects as one of the state's top two-way players in 2020(©KellyRoss | Kelly Ross)
Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 5:51 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) -

Catch It Kansas continues with its 2020 Positional Breakdown. Players are again listed at just one position. Some players, such as Canton-Galva’s Tyson Struber, are among the state’s top DBs, but have shown up on another list.

1. Trey Krause, Olathe West – In terms of production, Olathe West’s Trey Krause is among the top players in Kansas, regardless of position. Krause, a consensus first team all-state pick, delivered 143 tackles, six pass breakups, and three interceptions. In his career, Krause has delivered 261 tackles with five interceptions. As well, Krause ranked No. 1 in Kansas defensive backs in the 40-yard dash (4.49) at a major combined this summer. He has a 36-inch vertical leap and a 4.15 GPA. Krause is part of a OW team that returns four offensive line starters, Alex Birge at quarterback and junior running back Anthony Favrow (1,324 yards). Birge posted a 12/3 TD/INT ratio.

2. Davonte Pritchard, Gardner-Edgerton – Pritchard is ranked as the state’s No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2021, according to 247 Sports, a recruiting industry leader. Pritchard, listed an athlete, has committed to Kansas State. G-E, which has a very uncertain fall season, also includes senior Ethan Reynolds, who was honorable mention all-state. Pritchard can play outside linebacker and safety. Pritchard came on as a sophomore when he led G-E in tackles as the Trailblazers went from 0-9 to 10-1. Coach Ryan Cornelsen told me in ’18 that Pritchard’s motor “runs really, really high.” Last season, Pritchard recorded a sack, an interception, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt. G-E was 8-2 and was second in 6A with 16.9 points allowed a contest. Reynolds picked off a pair of passes.

3. Andrew Bradley, Blue Valley West – After a Week 1 win versus Mill Valley, the eventual 5A state champion, BVW coach Josh Koerkenmeier said to me that Bradley was a lockdown corner. That stayed consistent throughout the year. He picked off two passes and had eight passes defended. Bradley picked up first team all-Eastern Kansas League, the only non-senior named first team DB in the state’s best conference. BVW was one of the state’s biggest surprises and jumped to 7-4 after a 3-6 season in ’18. Blue Valley West allowed 38.2 points per game two years ago and dropped to 22.5 points allowed a contest last season, No. 12 in 6A. Bradley has posted 4.56 in the 40-yard dash.

4. Dasan McCullough, Blue Valley North – Kansas’ consensus top 2022 recruit for quite some time, McCullough recently committed to Ohio State. McCullough has excellent football bloodlines, including his father, Deland, the Chiefs’ running back coach. BVN was No. 9 scoring defense in 6A with 21.7 points allowed a game. His brother, Daeh, is a sophomore defensive back.

5. Todric McGee/Wetu Kalomo, Wichita Northwest – Wichita Northwest is the back-to-back 5A runner-up and went 12-1 last fall with the best scoring defense since ’05. Northwest had great improvement across the board defensively, but perhaps no player broke out more than Wetu Kolomo. He has offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Missouri State and South Dakota State, according to his 247 Sports page. As a sophomore, he delivered nine tackles and an interception. Last season, Kalomo bumped to 35 tackles, three TFLs, eight interceptions and 13 passes broken up and was a consensus first team all-state player.

Another senior, safety Todric McGee has started multiple years and has picked up offers from Army, Air Force, Missouri State, Northwest Missouri State and Southeast Missouri State. McGee had 88 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions and three forced fumbles for the No. 3 scoring defense in 5A. Also in the City League, Wichita East’s Tobi Osunsanmi and Wichita West’s Rian Green have impressed this summer. The City League continues to have an uncertain fall sports future even though the COVID-19 cases per capita in Sedgwick County are well below many Kansas counties.

6. Cory Akins/Tanner Knox, Derby – The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Akins, a junior, was a backup last season, but has performed well in summer combines and has shown great speed. Derby is extremely talented again, notably with QB Lem Wash, running back Dylan Edwards and all of its linebackers return. Derby consistently produces excellent DBs and Akins and Knox are part of that group. The Panthers were easily the No. 1 defense in 6A with 11.9 points allowed a contest. Derby has won back-to-back state titles.

7. AJ Johnson, Salina South/Dakota Hogan, Salina Central – The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Johnson will be a four-year starter. He has eight scholarship offers, including Independence CC, Fort Hays, and Butler CC. Johnson led SS with three interceptions. As well, senior Que Hill stepped up with impressive combine numbers. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Hogan helped SC to the No. 10 scoring defense in 5A.

8. Isaiah Maikori, Andover – The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Maikori has posted 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash and has four offers, including Division I St. Thomas (Minn.). He delivered 74 tackles, 22 pass breakups and five interceptions for the No. 5 scoring defense in Class 5A.

9. Ethan Stuhlsatz, Kapaun-Mt. Carmel – Stuhlsatz, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound senior wide receiver/strong safety, greatly impressed at the Sharp Performance Combine this summer in Salina. Last year, he delivered 90 tackles, three for loss, with a pass breakup and a forced fumble. He has posted 4.53 seconds in the 40 and has picked up offers from Hutchinson CC, Butler CC and Highland CC. As well, Cade Curtis (4.3 GPA, 32 ACT) could have a breakout season after 21 catches for 285 yards and three scores, along with a pair of forced fumbles in just seven games.

10. Jaxson Gebhardt, Southeast of Saline – Gebhardt, one of the state’s top two-way players, helped SES finish 7-3 and allow 17.3 points per game. The son of Trojan coach Mitch Gebhardt, Jaxon was first team all-state 2A with 50 tackles, seven interceptions. He accounted for 21 touchdowns. The Trojans return its QB, top-two rushers, and top-eight tacklers. SES finished No. 12 in 2A in scoring defense, though bumps to 3A this fall.

11. Desmond Purnell, Topeka Hayden – Purnell was first team all-state 3A for Topeka Hayden, a 10-2 squad that permitted just 9.5 points a contest, fifth-best in the classification.

12. Eli Rowland, Andale – Rowland enjoyed a big season with more than 1,130 rushing yards and multiple special teams touchdowns. He picked off seven passes, easily the highest for the Indians, which went 13-0 and won the 3A state title. Andale permitted 7.31 points per game, second-best in 3A.

13. Tucker Veach, Hays – One of the state’s most underrated players, Veach is starting to get more attention this summer. He is part of a Hays High defense that includes defensive end Gaven Haselhorst and linebacker Gavin Meyers. Haselhorst and Meyers are ranked second and first in the CIK positional rankings at their respective spots. Haselhorst has committed to Kansas State. Meyers, a junior, has offers from Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas State. Haselhorst is the No. 10 prospect in the ’21 class, according to 247. Meyers is No. 2 for the ’22 class. Veach delivered 94 tackles and six interceptions. Coach Tony Crough told me this summer that Veach is a defensive leader and one of the top western Kansas players.

14. Jayton Alexander, McPherson – Alexander (5-9, 160) plays safety in McPherson’s vaunted defense that again went 11-1 and led 4A with 8.3 points allowed a game. Alexander was a unanimous first team all-league selection with 76 tackles and a pair of interceptions. Jayden Dukes is also a key DB for McPherson.

15. Tyler Gerety, Nemaha Central – Nemaha Central jumped from 5-4 to 11-2 and the Class 2A state champion last fall. Senior Tyler Gerety, a first team all-state 2A defensive back and honorable mention wide receiver, delivered three interceptions and five pass breakups. NC led Kansas with 28 interceptions, including big defensive performances versus several standout quarterbacks. In the 2A title, NC beat Norton, 19-0. NC dropped its scoring defense from 21.9 to 14.6 points a contest. Gerety has committed to KU baseball.

16. Michael Allen/Hayden Essex, Blue Valley – Both were Eastern Kansas League honorable mention as sophomores. BV doubled its win total from 4-5 to 8-4 and was the No. 6 defense in 6A with just 20.1 points per contest. They combined for five interceptions and seven passes defended.

17. Cal Kilgore/Mason Rozell/Lance Teague, Blue Valley Southwest – All three were honorable mention EKL as a juniors. BVSW finished 3-8 last year, though returns its QB, more than half of its receptions, and three of its top-four tacklers. A senior, Kilgore had 81 tackles, second-most on the squad. Rozell had 58 tackles, while Teague delivered 39 stops. Notably, Rozell intercepted five passes and defended five passes.

18. Lakin Farmer/Carter Hiebert/Cameron Kohr, Halstead – Last season, Halstead coach Jason Grider told me he was pleased with the Dragons’ defensive backs. Farmer, expected to move from quarterback to running back, had 72 tackles, second-most for the squad. He also picked off seven passes. Hiebert had the 104-yard pick-six against Pratt and broke a school record had stood since 1939. In 2018, Halstead recorded just seven interceptions and forced 15 turnovers all year. Last season, the Dragons forced 20 turnovers for an 8-1 season.

19. Dawson Williams, Perry-Lecompton – Williams, a free safety/wide receiver, picked off four passes and recovered a pair of fumbles. He is part of an elite P-L defense that returns every player that picked off a pass last year. The Kaws are defending 3A runner-up.

20. Ladislao Jaimes III, Maize South – Maize South graduated two-time first team all-state selection Trevion Mitchell at DB, but Jaimes stepped up last season as a sophomore. Maize South went through significant injuries on defense and had Jaimes delivered three pass breakups and a pair of forced fumbles in the first five contests. Maize South went 10-1 and finished second in 5A in scoring defense at 12.1 points allowed a contest. He is 5-10, 175 with a 225 bench and 325 squat.

21. Marrell Fountain, Olathe East – Fountain, listed as running back/defensive back, posted 1,250 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in 10 games. The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder can play both ways. He has earned MIAA interest, among others.

22. Jett Vincent, Wheatland-Grinnell – Perhaps no DB had a bigger impact on his team than Wheatland-Grinnell’s Jett Vincent, a freshman safety last fall. Vincent, who plays for his father, Jesse, was consensus first team all-state with 52 tackles, 13 interceptions, 11 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. The Thunderhawks finished 8-2, the best season in school annals. Vincent’s brother, Trey, returns as the quarterback. Last season, W-G had 13 INTs and forced 31 turnovers. Two years ago, the Thunderhawks were 1-8 and had just 11 turnovers forced.

23. Brayden Perez, St. John’s/Tipton – Perez was first team all-state KPreps with 107 tackles, five TFLs, six pass breakups, two interceptions, along with more than 1,200 all-purpose yards.

24. Cade Eldred, Shawnee Mission East/ Corbin Oberzan, Lawrence – A pair of Sunflower League seniors. Eldred was second team all-league, and Oberzan was honorable mention all-state.

25. Malik Benson/Richie Patrick, Lansing – Lansing junior Richie Patrick picked off three passes and broke up three passes. A three-star 2021 recruit, Benson is listed as an Athlete by 247 Sports. Benson is part of a Lion squad that could see a sizable improvement after a 4-5 season. Lansing returns every player that recorded an interception (10 total) and also has quarterback/linebacker Caden Crawford, already offered by several Big 12 schools. Benson picked off and defended a pass. Lansing has not won more than six games since an 8-2 mark in 2010. Lansing quietly posted the No. 15 defense in the 32-team Class 5A with 23.7 points per game. Two years ago, the Lions allowed just 21.1 points a contest.

26. Eli Wiseman, Belle Plaine – Wiseman, one of Kansas’ top junior football/basketball players last year, helped Belle Plaine enjoy a big surprise season in ’19. BP jumped up to No. 4 in 2A in scoring defense with just 13.7 points allowed per game. Belle Plaine finished 8-2. Two years ago, BP was 4-5 and allowed 39 points a contest. Wiseman also cleared 200 all-purpose yards and helped the Dragons win its first playoff game since ’91 with a 17-14 victory versus Chaparral. Wiseman was first team all-league defensive back, the lone non-senior named first team DB in the Central Plains League.

27. Jace Doerksen, Inman – Doerksen, a junior, helped Inman reached the quarterfinals, the best finish for the school in 25 years. Doerksen cleared 600 passing yards, along with 40-plus tackles and multiple interceptions and forced fumbles.

28. Colton Fife, Madison/Dameion Hattan, Sedan/Cale Lindsay, South Central/Thomas Sturgeon, Pratt-Skyline/Isaac Detweiler, Axtell – A big group of standout eight-man players. Fife helped Madison to an 11-1 record and just 14.7 points allowed a contest. Hatten led Sedan with 71 tackles, along with an interception and fumble recovery. Skyline improved to 7-2. Detweiler enjoyed a huge freshman season at QB/WR/DB and is expected to fully take over at QB this year for Axtell, the defending Eight-Man, Division II runner-up. South Central has reached the quarterfinals four straight seasons and has a new coach this season. Senior Cale Lindsay delivered 28 tackles, seven for loss. Junior middle linebacker Owen Herd (89 tackles, 21.5 TFLs) is back on defense, too.

29. Southeast KS/Topeka area – Several smaller school players have shined in the area south of Topeka and in southeast Kansas. Humboldt junior Gavin Page, Central Heights junior Tony Detwiler and Osage City junior Garrett Fager were all honorable mention all-state. Page delivered 66 tackles and is the only one of the top-six tacklers back for the Cubs. OC returns its top-seven tacklers. Fager was second with 42 stops, four TFLs. Detwiler tied for the team high with 63 tackles.

30. Damon Redeker, Olpe – A first team all-state junior by KPreps, Redeker delivered 31 tackles with seven interceptions. The Eagles were first in 1A with 7.6 points allowed a contest.

31. Gavin Price, Burlington – Price, a senior and honorable mention all-state, picked off four passes and defended six. He also recorded 41 tackles. Price helped Burlington post a 5-4 record, its third straight winning season.

Copyright 2020 Catch it Kansas. All rights reserved.

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