What characteristics and skills would a 5-star defensive back possess that would allow them to be a superstar at the college level? Speed and quickness are of course a given for players in the defensive secondary, but what is it that sets a 5-Star defensive back apart from the rest?
Here are the FIVE traits that make a 5-star stud DB recruit:
Having a proper backpedal is essential to being a good corner at any level of football. Being able to quickly and swiftly move backward while facing forward and having your eyes on what’s happening in front of you is integral. 5-star corners and safeties can backpedal in their sleep, and they may be able to do it faster than many of us can run forward.
Having a good backpedal means that they are staying low with their knees bent in an athletic position, chest is low and above the knees, back is straight and eyes are up. They aren’t simply chopping their feet backward, but rather pushing off and exploding backward. Footwork is critical and 5-star defensive backs must be impeccable at this.
2. Hip Turn
Having a great backpedal means nothing if you can’t turn your hips and run with the receiver. Defensive backs aren’t meant to just backpedal along with a receiver, so being able to quickly flip the hips, get vertical and then sprint with the receiver is a must. This all depends on having a quick hip turn. Whether it’s a speed turn in or out, or even a baseball turn, which is more like a 180, being able to break out of the backpedal, catch up to the receiver and then get into his hip is what sets apart the great defensive backs from the good ones.
3. Good Open-Field Tackler
A defensive back is not asked to be just a pass defender, so having the ability to stop the running game is huge. This is actually one of the biggest dividing lines between good and elite-level players.
While the backpedal is important, it’s equally as important as the ability to quickly stick the foot in the turf and come back down to the line of scrimmage against the run. Great defensive backs can transition their footwork from pass coverage to run in a split second, and a lot of that has to do with their footwork. They can stick, plant and get downhill extremely fast, which allows them to make a lot of plays at or near the line of scrimmage against the run.
They also aren’t afraid of contact, and good defensive backs normally initiate it. Whether it be taking on a block to set the edge and force the runner back inside to help or simply making an open-field tackle against a bigger runner, 5-star defensive backs find a way to be more than just pass defenders.
4. Ball Hawk
5-star defensive backs have a ‘mentality’ that separates them from the average DB. This mentality thinks like this, “When the ball is thrown my way it’s MINE!” They are always around the football and make big plays on a regular basis. Like a baseball outfielder, they have an understanding of the flight path, velocity, and hang time of a pass when they see it in the air, and that’s why they will pick it off from the offense. What separates the good from the great in the defensive secondary is the ability to take the ball away from the offense.
Great defensive backs just find a way to get it done. They can make athletic plays on the ball in coverage that lead to interceptions, and they aren’t afraid to come down to the line and pounce on a ball that was knocked loose by a linebacker or lineman.
Somehow, someway, 5-star defensive backs find a way to get the ball back for their team and change possession, thus bringing momentum back to their team.
Having a 5-star defensive back on your team can be a game-changer. They can seal the deal for you with a huge interception or give you a chance when you desperately need to get the ball back to your offense. They are constantly around the football.
It’s one thing to have great athletes who can run, backpedal, tackle, and ball hawk, but if you have stellar athletes with a coachable spirit, wow! You’ve got the ingredients to create an unstoppable defense. A coachable athlete is what every college football program wants, period. If an athletic scholarship comes down to three equally qualified players they will always offer the scholarship to the athlete that doesn’t have hang-ups, baggage, a bad attitude, or lack of emotional intelligence. Here are some great defensive back training videos.