SBLive’s Top 10 defensive backs in Class 5A Texas high school football

Who’s the best defensive back in Texas high school football? Who’s poised for a breakout season, and which defender will lead the state in interceptions?

We’ll try to answer these questions and more by analyzing the top 10 players at every position in Class 6A, 5A and 1A-4A/Private Schools throughout the 2021 Texas high school football season.

After ranking the top 10 defensive backs across Texas in Class 6A last week, we’re now taking a look at the top 10 secondary stars in Class 5A throughout Texas high school football this season:


QUARTERBACKS — Class 6A Top 10 QBs | Class 5A Top 10 QBs | Sub-5A Top 10 QBs


RUNNING BACKS — Class 6A Top 10 RBs

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1. Bryan Allen Jr, Aledo

Allen claims the top spot on this list among a collection of elite 5A DBs as one of the most decorated safeties throughout high school football. The senior anchors Aledo’s staunch secondary as a third-year starter with a proven track record as a defensive playmaker. Allen was named District 4-5A DII’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year after an explosive sophomore season that included 122 tackles, three fumble recoveries, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recovery touchdowns. He followed that up with a sensational encore performance that featured 67 tackles, six pass deflections and a pair of picks in 2020. His junior campaign helped propel Aledo toward the 5A DII state championship last year, the program’s third consecutive state title, and he was rewarded with the Texas Sports Writers Association’s 5A Defensive Player of the Year award. He leads one of the state’s fiercest defenses in 5A that’s allowing 14.0 points per contest through four games in 2021. Allen committed to Texas in February after receiving offers from 26 FBS programs including Alabama, LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma among others. Allen, a four-star recruit, is rated as the 17th-ranked Texas Class of 2022 prospect and one of the top 100 seniors nationally according to 247 Sports

2. Chandler Rivers, Beaumont United

Rivers has been nothing short of dominant during his four years starring in Beaumont United’s secondary. He broke onto the Texas high school football scene as a two-way standout for the Timberwolvers during his freshman year. Rivers played in all 10 games during his debut season and racked up 59 tackles, a team-high seven interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a pass deflection. He only played one game before his sophomore season was wiped out by injuries, but Rivers rebounded with a strong 2020 campaign that included 42 tackles, four pass breakups and four interceptions. He already snagged his 12th career interception, a 48-yard return for a defensive touchdown, to spark what will likely be a big senior season and has added 935 total yards and six offensive touchdowns in three seasons. He also claimed a silver medal in the jong jump at the 5A state track and field meet. Rivers, a three-star prospect per 247 Sports, has been offered by two dozen DI programs but committed to Duke in over Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Utah among other

3. Austin Jordan, Denton Ryan

Jordan checks in as the top-ranked cornerback from the DFW on this list. He’s entering his third season as a defensive starter, during which time he’s asserted himself as the premier cover corner for one of the most talented 5A squads throughout the state. Jordan made a splash as a sophomore by landing District 4-5A DI’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year award, but escalated his game to another level as a junior when he was named a unanimous first-team all-district pick after helping Ryan capture the 5A DI state championship. He also boasts a combination of size at 6-foot and elite speed, serving as the anchor in Ryan’s state-qualifying 200-meter relay team on the track. Jordan has tallied 10 pass deflections and four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in 16 career games. He’s a four-star prospect who has also been tabbed one of the top 50 players in Texas and top 200 players nationally in the 2022 recruiting class by 247 Sports. Jordan has received nearly two dozen Power Five offers and took official visits to Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas this summer before committing to the Longhorns in mid-July.

4. Jaylon Guilbeau, Port Arthur Memorial

Guilbeau is the second star cornerback from District 9-5A DI to make an appearance on this list as both a lockdown defender and electric special teams standout. He’s a third-year starter holding down a strong Port Arthur Memorial secondary after earning back-to-back first team all-district honors as a sophomore and junior. Last year as a junior, he racked up 40 tackles and four interceptions to lead the Titans to a district championship and perfect regular season. He’s also the second player on this list with game-breaking speed displayed in Memorial’s state-qualifying 100 and 200-meter relay teams. Guilbeau showed off that quickness during a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown on the opening play of a Week 4 game against Crosby. He’s collected two dozen DI offers from Alabama, Georgia, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M among others, but remains one of the most talented uncommitted senior DBs in Texas high school football. Guilbeau, a four-star recruit, is one of the top 30 seniors in Texas and one of the top 20 Class of 2022 cornerback prospects nationally per 247 Sports.

5. Landon Hullaby, Mansfield Timberview

Hullaby ranks among the DFW’s most talented defensive backs. He’s earned a reputation as one of the state’s top safeties with his elite pass coverage skills through four seasons after starting his high school career at Dallas Bishop Dunne. Hullaby made an immediate impact after making the move to Mansfield Timberview as a sophomore and captured District 6-5A DI’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year award. In his junior year, he tallied 37 tackles, four tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions to help lead the Wolves to a 9-3 record and third-round playoff appearance. Hullaby received his first Power Five offer from Baylor in June 2018, two months before his first career high school game. He’s received 27 additional offers since then and visited Arkansas, Oregon and SMU. Hullaby, a three-star prospect, committed to Oregon in February becoming one of several DFW standouts in the Ducks’ 2022 recruiting class. He’s considered one of the top 65 senior recruits across the state by 247 Sports and his brother, Jaden, plays running back at Texas. 

6. Malik Muhammad, South Oak Cliff

Muhammad stands out among a star-studded secondary at South Oak Cliff. The 6-foot cornerback is ranked as a four-star recruit and regarded as one of the top 10 CB prospects nationally and one of the top 10 juniors across Texas by 247 Sports. He made 57 tackles and snagged three interceptions in South Oak Cliff’s 9-3 campaign in 2020 and headlines one of the toughest 5A DII defenses around the state this year. Muhammad teams with senior Kyron Chambers, a three-star prospect, and juniors Jayvon Thomas, a four-star recruit, and Abdul Muhammad to form one of the most fearsome cornerback quarters anywhere in high school football. Chambers, Thomas and Abdul Muhammad hold a combined 36 DI offers between them, but Malik Muhammad might be the crown jewel among an overwhelming riches in the Golden Bears’ secondary. He’s one of top uncommitted defensive back prospects around the state with 41 offers extended to him so far from a lengthy list of schools that include most of the top teams in every Power Five conference. His cousins, AJ Green and Jabbar Muhammad, are ex and current defensive backs at Oklahoma State.

7. Adari Haulcy, Fort Bend Marshall

Haulcy was one of only a handful of players on this list to receive TSWA all-state recognition last year, earning a third team all-state nod after as a fixture in one of the state’s strongest and deepest secondaries at Fort Bend Marshall. He earned his all-state selection as a junior by hauling down seven interceptions and deflecting four passes in 10 games. Haulcy will headline Marshall’s secondary at cornerback and will help lead the Buffaloes’ defense, which is allowing 15.5 points per game this season, with fellow senior Jacobe Chester, a Kansas commit, at safety in pursuit of another undefeated regular season and district title. Haulcy also holds an offer from the Jayhawks in addition to six others from FBS and FCS programs throughout the Southwest and Southeast. He’s a prime candidate for a huge season as one of the top defenders on a hungry Marshall squad poised for another deep postseason run.

8. Jamel Johnson, Arlington Seguin

Johnson checks in as another top-tier Class of 2023 prospect from the DFW and the second standout defender from District 5-5A DII on this list. The junior represents one of the top-ranked uncommitted defensive backs in Texas high school football. He was named the district’s freshman of the year after his varsity debut in 2019 and received first team all-district honors after his first season as a full-time starter at Arlington Seguin. His 6-foot-1 frame gives him length and reach defensively making him a valuable asset in pass coverage at both cornerback and safety. Johnson, a four-star recruit, is considered one of the top 50 juniors in Texas high school football and one of the top 25 safety prospects nationally in the 2023 recruiting class. Johnson has received more than dozen Power Five offers from programs like Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, Penn State, Texas and Texas A&M among others. He’ll continue to emerge as one of the state’s most disruptive defensive backs with his best days of high school football still ahead of him.

9. Collin Wright, Manvel

Wright was an integral part of Manvel’s dominant defense last year that helped the program push to a 9-2 record and Region III-5A DI championship game appearance in the postseason. He joined the Mavericks in time for the 2020 season after playing his sophomore year at Houston St. Pius where he racked up 43 tackles, eight pass deflections and six interceptions. However, it didn’t take long for Wright to develop a reputation as one of the top safeties in 5A during his first year at Manvel as a junior. He earned TSWA honorable mention all-state recognition after tallying 59 tackles, four interceptions, a fumble recovery and sack in 2020. Wright figures to be a major component of the Mavericks’ defense, which is loaded with FBS-caliber recruits headlined by Wright and linebacker Justin Medlock, a Miami commit. He’s rated by 247 Sports as a three-star recruit, one of the top 120 seniors across Texas and a top 60 safety prospect nationally in the Class of 2022. Wright is off to a hot start this season too. He’s already recorded 19 tackles, three pass breakups, three tackles for loss and an interception three games into his senior year. Wright collected offers from more than two dozen DI programs and took official visits to Colorado, Duke and Utah last June, but decided to commit to Stanford in early July

10. Dylahn McKinney, Colleyville Heritage

McKinney has been a stable presence in Colleyville Heritage’s defense for three seasons during which time he’s made a name for himself as a ball-hawking cornerback with tremendous upside. He earned back-to-back first team all-district honors in District 4-5A DI during his sophomore and junior years. McKinney established his elite pass coverage skills during his first varsity season in 2019 that featured 22 tackles, six pass deflections, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The hard-hitting DB added to his game as a junior by improving his tackling and showing he can be effective against the run too. He finished the 2020 season with 43 tackles — nearly doubling his production from the previous year — as well as seven pass breakups, two picks and his first career defensive touchdown on a fumble recovery return. McKinney might be one of the most athletic defensive backs in Texas high school football as a track star who also competes in the 100-meter dash, 110 and 300-meter hurdles and the long jump. He’s considered a three-star cornerback prospect and one of the top 125 recruits throughout the state in the 2022 recruiting class per 247 Sports. McKinney received 21 offers from DI programs and took official visits to Arizona, Missouri and Oklahoma State in June before committing to the Cowboys in early July.

Other 5A defensive backs receiving consideration: Ahmad Moses, Mansfield Summit; Jordan Johnson-Rubell, Fort Worth Brewer; Eric Hemphill, Brenham; Jaden Allen, Aledo; Devin Turner, Frisco Lone Star; Evan Garcia, El Paso El Dorado; Blake Bevans, Highland Park; Tavian Cord, Pflugerville Weiss; Damon Youngblood, McKinney; Harrison Robinson, College Station; Kyron Chambers, South Oak Cliff; Jayvon Thomas, South Oak Cliff; Jacobe Chester, Fort Bend Marshall; Justin Kay, La Porte; Jacob De Leon, Leander Rouse; Abdul Muhammad, South Oak Cliff; Jeremiah Cooper, El Paso Andress; Kyndon Fuselier, Nederland; Jalen Muhammad, McAllen Memorial; Kayden Cooper, New Caney; Napoleon Cox, El Paso El Dorado; Xyander Renteria, Amarillo; Ashton Ojiaku, Houston; Thomas Alaniz, McAllen; Kentrell Webb, Katy Paetow; Aidan McCowan, Frisco Independence; Luke Johnson, Corpus Christi Veterans; Kaden McMahan, Liberty Hill; Christian Smith-Johnson, North Richland Hills; Nijahrell Prater, Victoria West; Shel Hudson, Dripping Springs; Tanner Johnson, Kyle Lehman; Brandon Cortez, Floresville; Amin White, Frisco Memorial; Donavin Carraway, Texas City; Kaden Watts, Brenham; Joe Montanez, Kerrville Tivy; Marquis Edwards, North Forney; Luke Johnston Kerrville Tivy; Kaleb Pillow Lubbock Coronado; Isaiah Crosby, Fort Worth Brewer; Bernock Iya, Azle; Preston Scrivner, Justin Northwest; Chapman Lewis, Burleson Centennial; Elijah Shaw, Red Oak; Hogan Wasson, Colleyville Heritage; Davion Woolen, Frisco Wakeland; Jalen Braxton, Frisco Lone Star; Shafiq Taylor, The Colony; Malachi Calhoun, Carrollton Smith; Ta’Darion Boone, Longview; Garrison Hefner, Magnolia; Trudell Berry, Baytown Lee; Richard Silvester, Baytown Sterling; Julian Payne, Fort Bend Hightower; Michael Jordan, Katy Peatow; Will Fonken, Austin Anderson; Andre Burt, Leander; Michael Cornelius, Seguin; Caleb King, San Antonio Veterans; JaQwalin Williams, Houston Sharpstown; Ramon Renteria, San Antonio Southwest Legacy; Mike Compean, Rio Grande City; Gianni Barrera, Weslaco East; Chris Whitecotton, Marble Falls; Jaden Muhammad, McAllen Memorial; Diego Valdez, Edcouch-Elsa; Connor McGrath, San Antonio Alamo Heights; Carter Hudson, Liberty Hill; Ryan Minor, Marble Falls; Adan Villatoro, Brenham; Kashala Kapyamba, Houston Sharpstown; Theron Pierre, Barbers Hill; Tre McLenton, Bryan Rudder; Cade Carter, Fulshear; Jalen Jones, Texarkana Texas High; Marcus Heard, Bryan Rudder; Jayden Brandon, Whitehouse; Trent Rucker, Lucas Lovejoy; Quintlon Ivory, Burleson; Keylan Childress, Everman; Diego Reyes, Fort Worth North Side.

Andrew McCulloch

Andrew McCulloch, SBLive

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