Top 5 Attributes College Coaches Look For In a Defensive Back

October 9, 2012 | Pat Curran

Although college football coaches have different recruiting requirements, when selecting defensive backs, they all commonly look for a few key attributes.

Speed

To be a DB in college, you've got to have speed for coverage. Coaches want athletes who can keep up with or outrun fast wide receivers. Most of the time, DBs do not run straight ahead, so their speed is measured through backpedals, shuffles and quick breaks on routes. (Check out some great football-specific drills to build up this trait.)

Explosiveness

Some athletes take awhile to get moving, while others get up to full speed in a hurry. An explosive first step is vital for a defensive back. You must be able to move in and pick off cuts as fast as possible. Explosiveness in a DB is the difference between an interception and a tackle for a five yard gain. (The keys to explosiveness.)

Athleticism

Many claim the DB is the most athletic position on the field; and as a former D player and coach myself, I have to agree. You must perform the unnatural motion of backpedaling, not knowing where your opponent will go. A lot goes into evaluating the athleticism of DB prospects. Although speed, proper footwork and explosiveness are crucial elements, you also need:

  • Ball Skills. When a potential interception is not made, you often hear, "that's why he's a defensive back and not a wide receiver." This may or may not be true about a particular player, but coaches do want DBs who can catch and make plays. DBs who knock the ball down help stop drives and change games by creating turnovers.
  • Flexibility. Here, I'm mostly referring to a DB's hips, which allow him to backpedal, then flip and run with a receiver or flip and break downhill on a route the receiver breaks off. Coaches want to observe how fluid an athlete is.

Intelligence

DBs need to be intelligent on the field. When they play smart, it's special. Coaches want to feel confident that their DBs understand  all the coverage checks and adjustments that need to be made before the snap, and that they are able to make split-second changes while running at full speed.

Toughness

Coaches love physical DBs. In high school, DBs are not expected to play a huge role defending the running game, but that changes dramatically in college. DBs are important in most defensive schemes, being gap sound and stopping the run. A high school DB who plays physical gives himself a huge advantage in recruiting.

Feel free to contact me directly with any specific DB questions you may have @PWCurran.

Pat Curran
- Pat Curran is the Chief Operating Officer of the high school athletic recruiting website, Webletes.com. He was a standout high school football player and college...
Pat Curran
- Pat Curran is the Chief Operating Officer of the high school athletic recruiting website, Webletes.com. He was a standout high school football player and college...
Must See
Why NFL Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson Counts His Blessings
Views: 6,156,231
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,561,460
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 37,055,677

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 68,738
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 8,003
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 131,367
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,758
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,255
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,651
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,761
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,561,460

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

Although my career as a softball pitcher ended decades ago, I still identify with the sport because it continues to shape me off the field today. After...

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

Use These 3 Principles to Improve Your Basketball Defense

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

This 13-Year-Old Girl Would Strike You Out

3 Offensive Line Drills That'll Help You Keep Your QB Clean

How to Improve Your Football Skills Mid-Season

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

5 Things You Can Learn From Playing Pre-Season Basketball

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

Basketball Dribbling Drills: Use Chaos to Develop Killer Handles

Wide Receivers: Learn to Catch Every Jump Ball, Every Time

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

Drills for a Better Pole Vault Swing

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags

Shooting Drills That Will Make You a Knock-Down Shooter

4 Drills That'll Help You Become an Elite Running Back

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

Teach the Layup with the Two-Step Drill

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

10 Tips Every AAU Player Must Know

QB Skills and Drills: How to Master the Bubble Screen

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

The Football Route Tree, Explained