Home News Rivals Rankings Week: Storylines To Follow With Top 2026 Defensive Backs

Rivals Rankings Week: Storylines To Follow With Top 2026 Defensive Backs

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The new position rankings for the 2026 class are being released and so it’s time to look at storylines at each spot. Today we continue with the defensive backs.

THE RACE TO BE THE FIRST FIVE-STAR CORNERBACK

Samari Matthews

Samari Matthews

We don’t have a five-star at cornerback yet in the 2026 Rivals250. However, there are three prospects who are right on the cusp of getting the coveted fifth star.

USC commit Brandon Lockhart is deserving of that No. 1 spot. He’s a smooth and long corner with good coverage skills. Samari Matthews is a hot prospect out of North Carolina who is picking up elite offers left and right. Elbert Hill is a smaller corner but can cover guys on the outside and in the slot.

This could also be a position that sees some big risers come up the board. It’s a good group overall but those top three prospects have the inside track to five-star status.

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SPEEDSTERS ON THE MOVE AT CORNER

J’Vari Flowers

J’Vari Flowers (Justin Garcia/Rivals.com)

There are a pair of speedsters that have popped on the cornerback radar this spring that we’ll be watching this fall when the Friday Night Lights come back on.

Miami native J’Vari Flowers is putting up crazy track times in South Florida. He ripped off a 10.4 100m dash before his junior year of high school. He’s picked up several offers lately but his recruitment is bound to go national soon.

Gadsden (Ala.) City corner Zyan Gibson holds early offers from Alabama, Miami, Georgia and others. We could see him shoot up the rankings moving forward. We’ll be watching to see if his 4.4 camp speed translates to the football field this fall.

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BODY-TYPE CHANGES ON THE WAY?

Ksani Jiles

Ksani Jiles (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

For years now bigger defensive backs were all the rage with college football coaches. It’s easy to fall in love with a defensive back that is 6-foot-2 and up with a massive wingspan. But if you look at the trends in the NFL Draft those players aren’t getting drafted as high as you’d think. Instead the shorter corners with long arms and great leaping ability are preferred. There will be a trickle down effect in recruiting rankings.

The question is when it happens.

Elbert Hill, Justice Fitzpatrick and Ksani Jiles are a few prospects who would benefit from a shift in the way we think about defensive backs and size.

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WHICH BLUE-CHIP DEFENSIVE BACKS WILL LAND AT OHIO STATE?

Jireh Edwards

Jireh Edwards (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

We know the Buckeyes are putting together an elite defensive back class for the 2025 cycle, but what about 2026?

Ohio State is looking to stack classes as elite programs tend to do. The Buckeyes are in the mix with Elbert Hill, Samari Matthews, J’Zavien Currence, Jireh Edwards and many other elite prospects. If the program’s 2025 commitments all sign with the Buckeyes, the program will be able to be even more selective than normal when it comes to defensive back recruiting.

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