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2023 Idaho High School Football Preview: Top 10 Defensive Backs
A lot of our Top 10 DBs also excel in other positions/sports, showcasing their versatility
Published: 8/9/2023 11:06:01 AM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster


As we head towards a new football season in the fall of 2023, is once again 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:

June 26 (Offensive Linemen)

July 3 (Defensive Linemen)

July 10 (Special Teams)

July 17 (Running Backs)

July 24 (Linebackers)

July 31 (Wide Receivers/Tight Ends)

August 7 (Defensive Backs)

August 14 (Quarterbacks)

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Defensive Backs to watch out for in 2023.  These selections have been made by the editorial staff at, and are listed in alphabetical order by school.  We made these selections based on a number of factors, including: returning All-State or All-Conference pedigree, college recruiting hype, and the good old-fashioned eye test.

Victor Byaundaombe, Sr, Capital

Byaundaombe doesn’t get a ton of attention because Capital struggled to a 2-7 record a year ago.  But all you have to do is watch Byaundaombe play and you can see the potential.  He finished his junior season with modest totals (one interception and one fumble recovery), but turned heads in the spring after nearly reaching 48 feet in the triple jump (he won state with a jump of 47 feet, 11.75 inches).  In fact, of his various college offers, his lone Division 1 offer is from the track and field team at Texas A&M-Commerce.  But more football teams should be calling soon.

Jayme Ramos, Sr, Castleford

Ramos turned several heads last year as one of the triggermen in Castleford’s offense.  But of course, in eight-man football, rarely does a player have just one job.  More important to the Wolves during their semifinal run a year ago was Ramos’ production on the back end of the defense.  Castleford had to face explosive athletes from Camas County, Dietrich, Rockland, Grace, and others, and only yielded 9.6 points per game defensively.  Ramos’ steady play was a big reason why.

Kai Callen, Jr, Highland

If you’re looking for a player that could become the Gem State’s top recruit in the Class of 2025, then look no further.  5-foot-10, 165 pound Kai Callen has the speed, quickness, and agility to succeed wherever he lines up.  He started at corner for the Rams as a sophomore, and made his impact felt immediately, as he returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown in the opening minutes of the Rocky Mountain Rumble.  This spring, he ran a 10.97 in the 100 Meter Dash, and college coaches have noticed.  Callen already holds four Division 1 offers (Idaho, Idaho State, Northern Arizona and Portland State), and more are on the way.

David Kludt, Jr, Kamiah

Kludt is very similar to the first to players on our list.  Like Jayme Ramos at Castleford, Kludt garners lots of attention for his play at quarterback.  And like Kai Callen at Highland, Kludt is only a junior and has a nose for the football.  The son of Kamiah head coach Nels Kludt, David racked up 29 tackles a year and snuffed out ten interceptions.

Cole Burtenshaw, Sr, McCall-Donnelly

Burtenshaw was the only junior to make our list in 2022, and responded by turning in another All-State campaign.  Like many others on this list, Burtenshaw was heavily involved on the offensive side of the ball as well, but his leadership and instincts at the safety position are what new coach BJ Sorensen covets the most.  McCall-Donnelly narrowly missed out on the playoffs a year ago, but you can bet that Burtenshaw and company will do everything they can to get back.

Owen McBride, Sr, Mountain View

Another standout safety, McBride brings good size to the position with his 6-foot, 160 pound frame.  The first team All-Conference performer finished the year with 47 tackles and has been turning heads this summer at various camps.  But to really appreciate how talented a defender McBride is, check out what he did on the basketball floor.  Coach Jon Nettleton awarded McBride the Mavericks’ Co-Defensive Player of the Year Award.  “Owen was asked each and every night to guard the best player,” Nettleton said.  “He wanted the challenge and always stepped up!”

Isaac Cranney, Sr, Oakley

Cranney checks in at 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds, but don’t let his size fool you.  Ask anyone who’s been tackled by Cranney, and they’ll tell you: the dude hits hard.  And Cranney was busy in the tackling department a year ago, finishing with 77 total stops as Oakley won another 1AD1 championship.  Oh yeah, he also managed to snare seven interceptions as well.

Crew Searle, Sr, Skyline

Not much is left from Skyline’s football program that has claimed the last three Class 4A championships.  But Searle returns for his senior season to once again lead the Grizzlies’ secondary.  The 5-foot-8, 160 pound dynamo is versatile enough to thrive in whatever sports he’s pursuing.  Searle won his opening match at state wrestling this past winter and he made the podium at the state track and field meet in the spring by clearing 13 feet in the pole vault.

Grant Patterson, Sr, Twin Falls

Patterson is a 5-foot-11, 170 pound safety with speed to burn.  Patterson ran an 11.10 in the 100 Meter Dash this past spring, but he’s also an excellent tackler.  Patterson finished 2022 with 89 total stops, including 43 solo tackles.  He tacked on two interceptions, two blocked punts, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.  Patterson picked up his first Division 1 offer from Idaho State this summer, and other Big Sky coaches would be wise to follow suit.

Austin Belnap, Jr, Vallivue

Belnap has great size (6-foot, 165 pounds) and could play either corner or safety at the next level.  Thrust into the Falcons’ starting lineup as a sophomore in 2022, Belnap responded with 15 total tackles.  You might be thinking, “That total seems low.”  But consider this: Belnap was a true cover corner, often blanketing and suppressing the opposing team’s best receiver.  When opponents did throw his away, they did so at their peril, as Belnap had seven interceptions.

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