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2021 Football Preview: Top 10 Defensive Backs
Who made the cut on our Top 10 list?
Published: 8/9/2021 9:51:19 AM
Brandon Baney
Content Manager/Broadcaster


As we head towards a new football season in the fall of 2021, is getting fans ready by unveiling the Top 10 players at each position.  These lists feature players from all corners of the state, and from all six classification levels.  Each week, we'll publish a new list of Top 10 players.  Here's the schedule:

July 5 (Offensive Linemen)

July 12 (Defensive Linemen)

July 19 (Running Backs)

July 26 (Linebackers)

August 2 (Wide Receivers/Tight Ends)

August 9 (Defensive Backs)

August 16 (Quarterbacks)

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 defensive backs to watch out for in 2021.  These selections have been made by the editorial staff at, and are listed in alphabetical order by school.  We considered a wide range of factors when making this list, including individual stats, team success, All-State or All-Conference accolades, and college football recruiting buzz.

Isaiah Griffin, Coeur d'Alene (Sr.)

Sometimes stats don't tell the whole story when assessing a defensive back's play.  Griffin's stats may appear to ordinary (21 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble), but the Gonzaga Prep transfer had to acclimate himself to not only an entirely new team and scheme, but he also pulled double duty as a wide receiver.

Kaden Ramsey, Declo (Sr.)

Ramsey led all Class 2A players with 7 interceptions a year ago.  4 of those 7 INTs happened during the playoffs when the pressure was on.  Ramsey also used his 6-1, 150 lb. frame to notch 48 tackles and recover a fumble.

Gage Jones, Eagle (Sr.)

Jones finished 2020 with 41 tackles, 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble, as Eagle advanced to the Class 5A quarterfinals.  At 6-1 and 185 lbs., he brings the size and skill that has caught the attention of college recruiters.

Caseyn Pearson, Emmett (Sr.)

Pearson garnered a lot of attention at wide receiver last year (deservedly so), as he racked up nearly 600 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns.  His play in the secondary was even more impressive, though, as he finished with 47 tackles, 6 interceptions, 9 passes defended and 1 forced fumble.

Gage Vasquez, Firth (Jr.)

Don't let his size fool you.  Despite checking in at 5-4 and 130 lbs., the state champion-winning wrestler racked up 41 tackles, while also intercepting 6 passes and recovering 2 fumbles.  Oh yeah, he did all of this while also piloting the Cougars offense at quarterback, as Firth went all the way to the Class 2A state championship game.

Adam Jones, Highland (Sr.)

Jones locked down one half of the field last year at Highland, and also had a nose for the football.  Jones accumulated 44 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles.  He's also an excellent kickoff and punt returner.

Eli Heck, Homedale (Sr.)

The 5-7, 150 lb. Heck tallied 38 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery for the Class 3A runner-up a year ago.  He also broke up 3 passes, and his play in the secondary will be critical to Homedale's efforts to get back to the title game.

Josiah Weaver, Lake City (Sr.)

Weaver earned 1st Team All-Conference honors a year ago after finishing the season with 42 tackles and 5 interceptions from his safety position.  Weaver is also expected to add quarterbacking duties to his resume this upcoming season.

Payton Howe, Marsh Valley (Sr.)

The 5-10, 150 lb. senior is a natural at every sport he plays, whether he's leading the Eagles basketball team from his point guard spot, smacking a few more hits on the baseball diamond, or making incredible plays in the secondary on the football team.  Howe has been turning heads on the summer circuit, and is a gifted athlete that will thrive once again this year.

Bryler Shurtliff, West Side (Sr.)

Shurtliff is one of Idaho's best all-around athletic talents.  Standing at 6-3 and 170 lbs., Shurtliff also contributes at wide receiver and in the kicking game at West Side.  But his play on defense really shined through a year ago, as Shurtliff intercepted 6 passes and deflected 8 more.


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