SBLive’s Top 10 defensive backs in 6A Texas high school football: North Shore’s Denver Harris tops list

Who’s the top defensive back in Texas high school football? Which defender can boast the best pass defense across the state, and which secondary star will haul in the most interceptions this year?

SBLive will search for answers to these questions and more by analyzing the top 10 players at every position in Class 6A, 5A and 1A-4A/Private Schools for the 2021 Texas high school football season.

Earlier this season, we ranked the top 10 quarterbacks around Texas in Class 6A, Class 5A and Class 1A-4A, respectively.

Now we’ll transition to the defensive side of the ball where we’ll begin by ranking the top 10 defensive backs in 6A throughout Texas high school football this season:

TOP 10 CLASS 6A QUARTERBACKS | TOP 10 CLASS 5A QUARTERBACKS | TOP 10 CLASS 1A-4A/PRIVATE SCHOOL QUARTERBACKS

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TOP 10 CLASS 6A DEFENSIVE BACKS

1. Denver Harris, Galena Park North Shore

Harris holds down the top ranking among 6A defensive backs throughout Texas. He anchors one of the state’s top defenses and secondaries at cornerback as a third-year letterman. Harris helped North Shore win back-to-back Region III championships in 2019 and 2020 and was a part of the program’s 6A DI state championship-winning team. He was the only junior defensive back to receive First Team All-State recognition from the Texas Sports Writers Association in 2020 after helping lead the Mustangs to a 14-1 record. He’s tabbed as a five-star prospect by 247 Sports, which also ranks the North Shore senior as one of the top five Class of 2022 defensive backs nationally and one of the top five overall senior recruits throughout Texas. Harris remains one of the most talented uncommitted high school football players across the country holding offers from more than three dozen DI college programs. In February, he narrowed his suitors on the recruiting trail down to a top four: Alabama, LSU, Texas and Texas A&M. Harris took official visits to Austin, Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa in June and also squeezed in an unofficial visit to College Station during the summer.

2. Terrance Brooks, Little Elm

Brooks played his freshman, sophomore and junior season at Plano John Paul II, but checks in as the top-ranked DFW area DB on this list due to his tremendous athleticism and football pedigree. He tallied 47 tackles, nine pass deflections and a sack to help lead John Paul II  to a 10-3 record and a TAPPS DI state championship game appearance as a sophomore in 2019. Brooks now comes over to Little Elm for his senior year where he’s joined forces with fellow senior Keyshon Mills, a Colorado Buffaloes commit, to form one of the state’s most elite cornerback duos. Brooks holds 40 offers from DI college programs and took official visits to Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Oregon and Texas this summer before committing to the Buckeyes in late June. He’s rated a four-star recruit and one of the top Class of 2022 defensive back recruits in Texas and the nation by 247 Sports. His father, Chet Brooks, played safety at Texas A&M and won two Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers

3. Devyn Bobby, DeSoto

Bobby stands out as one of the top defensive players in the state and one of the most experienced. He’s entering his third year starting at safety for DeSoto where he’s shown his versatility as an elite playmaker who can drop back in coverage, rush the passer and has developed a reputation as a hard-hitting DB. Bobby combined for 106 tackles, 19 pass deflections, seven interceptions and two interception returns for touchdowns during his sophomore and junior seasons in 2019 and 2020. He also racked up four tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and a safety in that time. Bobby added back-to-back first-team all-district honors at safety in 7-6A as a sophomore and 11-6A as a junior. He’s off to a hot start this season too, with 22 tackles through two games against Converse Judson and North Crowley. Bobby, a three-star recruit, holds nearly a dozen DI offers and committed to Baylor in late June over Colorado State, Kansas State and UTSA among others. He capped off a big junior season with a monster stretch during the playoffs that included 39 tackles, five pass deflections and two interceptions in wins against Killeen Shoemaker, Rockwall and Spring. If Bobby can continue to keep that momentum rolling throughout the 2021 season, he and the Eagles could be in store for another long playoff.

4. Bobby Taylor, Katy

Taylor serves as the lynchpin in Katy’s secondary and one of the senior leaders on the Tigers’ defense, which is one of the best units in the country. After playing his freshman season at Houston Heights he helped lead Katy to a 6A DI third-round playoff appearance in 2019, a 6A DII state championship in 2020 and a combined 24-3 record during that stretch. Taylor recorded two fumble recoveries and an interception during four games as a junior last season. Despite missing time as a junior and senior due to injuries, he’s asserted himself as one of the state’s best one-on-one pass defenders with the ability to shut down talented wide receivers. Taylor has been evaluated by 247 Sports as a four-star recruit and one of the top 30 Class of 2022 prospects across the state. He committed to Texas A&M — where he’ll join Tigers’ teammate and defensive end Sylla — in February after receiving offers from more than 30 DI programs including Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Texas and USC among others. At 6-foot-1, Taylor’s combination of length and elite speed make him one of the most difficult assignments for opposing receivers looking to break free.

5. Chace Biddle, Garland

Biddle is another three-year starter at safety with enormous upside who has already proven he’s one of the state’s top pass defenders. In 15 games as a sophomore and junior at Garland, he amassed 67 tackles, six pass deflections, a pair of interceptions and a tackle for loss. Biddle picked up right where he left off to begin his senior season. He has tallied 10 tackles and a pass deflection through three games this fall, as well as a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Owls’ season-opening win over Dallas Kimball. Biddle also runs track and although he missed his junior year as a sprinter due to injury, he posted a 10.70 second 100-meter dash time and ran a 22.12 in the 200 as a sophomore. He committed to SMU in early July after receiving offers from two dozen DI programs and naming a top seven that included the Mustangs, Alabama, Baylor, Michigan, Oklahoma, TCU and Texas A&M. He’ll join senior teammate, wide receiver Jordan Hudson, as four-star recruits headlining SMU’s 2022 recruiting class. Biddle is rated one of the nation’s top 10 Class of 2022 safety prospects by 247 Sports. He and Hudson should help make the Owls one of the state’s toughest teams in Class 6A this season.

6. Julian Humphrey, Clear Lake

Humphrey has excelled in three seasons at cornerback for Clear Lake and becomes the third Houston-area standout to make an appearance on this list. He combined for 51 tackles, 15 pass deflections, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery during his sophomore and junior seasons in 2019 and 2020. He’s ranked as a four-star prospect by 247 Sports, which also lists him as one of the top 25 players in the state and one of the top 150 Class of 2022 recruits nationally. Humphrey committed to Florida in late May after receiving offers from Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M among many other Power Five programs. His older brother, John, played wide receiver at Arizona State and Nevada. Humphrey boasts elite size at 6-foot-1 and speed with a 10.55 second time in the 100. He received back-to-back all-district recognition as a junior and sophomore and has gotten off to a solid start as a senior as well with eight tackles, two pass deflections and a fumble recovery through three games. Humphrey possesses elite pass coverage skills and his size and physicality will make a valuable addition to Clear Lake’s run defense too this fall.

7. Marquan Pope, Denton Guyer

Pope was one the brightest stars in high school football last season for Denton Guyer and earned a spot on the TSWA’s all-state third team. He helped lead the Wildcats to a combined 24-6 record during his sophomore and junior seasons as a starter at safety and racked up 96 tackles, three pass deflections and two tackles for loss during that span. In 2020, he snagged four interceptions during Guyer’s run to the 6A DII state semifinals. After the end of last season offers started pouring in for Pope, who committed to Pitt right after an official visit in late June. He also holds offers from Kansas, Tulsa and all three service academies among others. Pope teams with a pair of four-star safety prospects in juniors Peyton Bowen and Ryan Yaites, who each hold multiple Power Five offers, to form one of the most formidable secondaries throughout high school football at Denton Guyer. Pope can play the run and the pass as a hard-hitting, ball-hawking safety. He’s a versatile hybrid defender at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds with the capacity to impact the game in a number of ways defensively.

8. Ben Roberts, Northwest Eaton

Roberts, a Texas Tech commit, clocks in following a breakout junior season that put him on the map in 2020. Eaton’s star safety totaled 100 tackles, four interceptions, a sack and a fumble recovery touchdown in 13 games last year during a tremendous campaign as a first-year starter. He tallied five games with 10 tackles or more for the Eagles in 2020 and nabbed huge interceptions in back-to-back postseason wins over Weatherford and San Angelo Central. Roberts is one of several Eaton seniors with FBS-level intrigue on the recruiting trail and committed to Tech earlier this week over SMU, Utah State and Wyoming among others hours after receiving an official offer from the Red Raiders. He’s also one of the state’s most physically-imposing DBs and another hybrid defender at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. Roberts has the size and athleticism to plug running lanes in the face of talented rushers and blanket tight ends in pass coverage downfield, while also possessing the instincts and reflexes to be a lockdown defender over the middle.

9. Kaden Baze, Odessa Permian

Baze, the first West Texas player to find a place on this list, has been a top-tier defender for Permian for several years. He burst onto the scene with 60 tackles, seven pass deflections, six sacks, three tackles for loss, two interceptions and a pair of fumble recoveries during a breakout sophomore season in 2019. He followed that up with an encore performance as a junior that included 96 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, five pass deflections, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a sack and landed him on the TSWA’s 2020 all-state honorable mention defense. Baze entered his senior season as one of the Panthers’ defensive leaders and one of the top players throughout the Permian Basin. He’s already off to a strong start this fall too. Baze recorded a sack and interception in his team’s season-opening win against El Paso Pebble Hills and made 13 tackles in a loss to Amarillo Tascosa. That performance marked his seventh career game with double digit tackles for Baze, who has averaged 7.1 tackles per contest in 26 career games so far. 

10. Anthony Ambriz, Brownsville Hanna

Ambriz becomes the highest-ranked defensive back throughout South Texas and the only player from the Rio Grande Valley to earn a spot on this list. He has served as a three-year starter for Brownsville Hanna at cornerback and safety where he’s flashed his explosiveness and penchant for playmaking. Ambriz became a household name throughout the RGV after a sophomore season that featured 83 tackles, four pass deflections, two interceptions — including a 95-yard interception return touchdown — two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss en route to the District 32-6A championship in 2019. He turned in another strong season during a COVID-shortened 2020 campaign as a junior with 54 tackles, four tackles for loss, an interception and a blocked punt in five games for the Golden Eagles that earned him TSWA honorable mention all-state honors. Ambriz has enjoyed another fast start to his senior season with 22 tackles, two pass deflections and a 64-yard interception return for a touchdown through two games. He doesn’t own the same reach advantage of many other standout DBs listed here at 5-foot-6, but Ambriz brings explosiveness, lockdown coverage skills and physicality that’s tough to match that more than make up for that.

Other 6A defensive backs receiving consideration: Jalon Peoples, Cedar Hill; Michael McBride, League City Clear Springs; Bryce Anderson, Beaumont West Brook; Marcus Scott, Conroe; Jordon Johnson-Rubell, Fort Worth Brewer; Dorian Friend, Spring; Aiden Inesta-Rodriguez, San Antonio Brandeis; Omari Evans, Killeen Shoemaker; Darius Johnson, Jersey Village; Keyshon Mills, Little Elm; Anthony Davis, Dallas Skyline; Jaden Toviano, Arlington Martin; Avyonne Jones, Southlake Carroll; Joshua Wiggins, Klein Oak; Jacoby Davis, Galena Park North Shore; Colby McCalistar, Friendswood Clear Brook; Tyler Turner, San Antonio Brennan; Maurice Williams, Alvin Shadow Creek; Jaydan Hardy, Lewisville; Aaron King, Garland; Pierre Goree, Duncanville; Dylan Dixson, Pearland; Robert Fitzgerald, Dallas Jesuit; Peyton Williams, Rockwall-Heath; Maliik Edwards, Katy Tompkins; Peyton Bowen, Denton Guyer; Brenden Jordan, Mansfield; Jeffrey Ugo, Richmond George Ranch; Derrick Johnson, Lake Travis; Ryan Yaites, Denton Guyer; Braxton Myers, Coppell; Brenden Jordan, Mansfield; Vernon Glover Jr, Dickinson; Josh Dixon, McKinney; Canyon Moses, Midland Legacy; Deldrick Madison, Duncanville; Jacob Schaeffer, Euless Trinity.

Andrew McCulloch

Andrew McCulloch, SBLive

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