High School

These are the top 10 high school defensive backs in the DMV

These are the top 10 high school defensive backs in the DMV

In today’s game, high-powered offenses are king. Long gone are the days of wishbone formations, triple-option quarterbacks and play-calling strategies centered around “three yards and a cloud of dust.”

In 2020, spread sets are the norm and offenses are designed to put up points in a hurry. For defenses to be successful at slowing them down, they need skilled and versatile defenders in the secondary who can stop the pass and help slow the run game. Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia are home to some of the best in the country.

Here are my Top 10 defensive backs in the DMV.

Ryan “Bo” Barnes | Quince Orchard (MD)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 180 lbs

Class: 2021

Offers: 35

Ryan Barnes is a ball-hawking DB with next level length and a knack for making big plays. At 6-foot-2, Barnes is a big corner who blankets his opposition. He uses his long arms and stride to aide in recovering, and once he gets his hands on the ball he is a threat to score.

Though slight of frame, Barnes is a physical, sure tackler who effectively sets the edge against the run.

Antoine Booth | DeMatha (MD)

Cornerback: 6’0”, 190 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Michigan State

Antoine Booth often accepts the challenge of lining up against the opposition’s No. 1 receiver -- he does not back down. In fact, he raises his game to that of his competition. He plays the game with a moxie and bravado that will serve him well this season and moving forward.

Booth does a stellar job reading and reacting. He keeps his eyes in the backfield, plants his back foot and jumps routes, often leading to pass breakups and interceptions.

Jalen Clyatt | Sherwood (MD)

Safety: 6’4”, 200 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: East Carolina

Jalen Clyatt has tremendous size and length. As a long strider, he covers a lot of ground in little time.

Clyatt manages the middle of the field. His range allows him to cover from sideline-to-sideline, and his ball skills make him a threat to intercept passes that sail over the middle.

Cam Johnson | St. Frances (MD)

Cornerback: 6’0”, 170 lbs

Class: 2022

Offers: 13

Cam Johnson has excellent technique. His hips are fluid, his backpedal is smooth and he changes direction effortlessly, which allows him to be successful in man coverage even when playing on an island.

At 6-feet tall, Johnson has nice length and a frame that he will grow into. The rising junior has legitimate “lockdown corner” potential.

Jalen “Buck” McCain | Flowers (MD)

Defensive Back: 6’0, 190

Class: 2021

Committed: Boston College

Jalen McCain is a versatile defensive back capable of making plays from all over the field. He can line up as a boundary-corner or in the slot versus spread offenses, as he displays proficiency in both zone and man coverage.

McCain is a skilled blitzer, has the speed and field awareness to defend in two-deep looks and thrives as a box safety, where his physicality and tackling abilities are on full display.

Will Simpkins III | Quince Orchard (MD)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 180 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: University of Virginia

Simpkins has a Div.-I body type and he uses it to his advantage. He’s physical at the line of scrimmage and excels at redirecting receivers, making it difficult for them to get into their routes.

His hand-fighting techniques are superb. He has loose hips and solid ball skills. Simpkins is capable of taking away an entire side of the field.

Jalen Stroman | Patriot (VA)

Safety: 6’1”, 195 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Virgina Tech

Jalen Stroman is developing into a special student athlete. He’s a big hitter who is most effective coming down hill and attacking. When defending the run, he’s equally adequate at filling the hole as he is setting the edge.

In pass coverage, Stroman displays an ability to undercut routes and break on the ball. He also displays the range to play deep centerfield.

Joshua Thompson | St. John’s (DC)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 190 lbs

Class: 2022

Offers: 8

Joshua Thompson thrives in press coverage. He has the physicality to manhandle receivers at the line, and the length to recover and make plays on the ball.

As a rising junior, his stock is on the rise. Thompson should develop into a 25-plus offer student athlete.

Dante Trader | McDonogh (MD)

Safety: 6’0”, 185 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Maryland

Dante Trader is a natural center-fielder who displays excellent range and ball skills. His footwork and technique allow him to cover ground efficiently. He’s a sound tackler who consistently finds himself around the ball.

What he lacks in size, he makes up for in instincts. Trader does an excellent job of diagnosing plays; seeing what’s in front of him and flowing accordingly.

Zakee Wheatley | Archbishop Spalding (MD)

Safety: 6’3”, 190 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Penn State

Zakee Wheatley is a big time student athlete who makes plays all over the field. He has the coverage skills to line up on the outside, as well as the size and physicality to run with tight ends down the seam.

Wheatley is a heavy hitter who provides support against the run and routinely uses his force to separate man from ball.

Robert E. Lee High School to change name after Fairfax County School board vote passes

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Robert E. Lee High School to change name after Fairfax County School board vote passes

Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield, Virginia, will change its name after the Fairfax County School Board voted on the issue on Tuesday night.

Fairfax County Superintendent Scott Braband has proposed six new names for the school board to vote upon. They are John Lewis, Barack Obama, Mildred Loving, Cesar Chavez, Legacy and Central Springfield.

The new name will go into effect to start the 2020-21 school year. A one-month comment period, that includes community input on a new name not included in Braband's recommendations, immediately begins.

“We are grateful for the feedback provided by the community during this process," School Board vice-chair and Lee District representative Tamara Derenak Kaufax said.  "We have carefully considered their input, and will be moving forward with the name change at Lee High School.  As I stated in February when this process began, Confederate values are ones that do not align with our community. I have seen the pain and hurt that these names have inflicted on friends, colleagues, and community members. Our schools need to be places where all students, staff, and members of the community feel safe and supported.”

There will be a community meeting on July 15 to discuss the names, followed by a public hearing on July 22. From there, the board will vote on a new name of the high school on July 23.

Robert E. Lee High School is not the first Fairfax County school to make a change. Earlier this month, Fairfax High School changed its mascot from the Rebels to the Lions. Formerly J.E.B. Stuart High School, named after a Confederate general, adopted Justice High School ahead of the 2018-19 school year.

Neighboring Arlington County high school Washington-Lee changed its name to Washington-Liberty to rid itself of references to top Confederate general Robert E. Lee in January of 2019.

The recent decisions by schools to dissociate themselves with past names come at a time of great civil unrest throughout the country following the murder of George Floyd. Major sports such as NASCAR have made changes such as banning the Confederate Flag, while other leagues have shown support for protests and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Fairfax High School changes mascot from Rebels to Lions

Image captured via Twitter @TroyKetch

Fairfax High School changes mascot from Rebels to Lions

On Thursday, Fairfax High School principal Erin Lenart announced that the school will no longer identify as the Rebels, instead adopting the Lions as its official mascot ahead of the 2020-21 academic year.

Citing the former mascot’s ties to the Confederacy, Lenart told members of the Fairfax community that the decision was one that had been made last September. Its athletic programs purchased and distributed uniforms that avoided the word “rebel” this past year in preparation for the transition.

“At Fairfax, we pride ourselves on inclusivity, family, belongingness, respect, and integrity, and given the history of Rebel, it is time for a change: Moving forward, Fairfax High School will no longer be the Rebel Pride; we will be known as the Fairfax Lions,” Lenart said in an email bulletin distributed by Fairfax County Public Schools.

As principal, Lenart was authorized to make the decision unilaterally, though the FCPS school board voiced its support for the change. The street adjacent to school, Rebel Run, will subsequently be renamed Lion Run at a school board meeting Thursday.

The announcement comes amid nationwide protests for racial equity following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, who died May 25 after a police officer kept his knee on his neck for eight minutes and 48 seconds. Nationally, sports leagues have made changes such as NASCAR’s ban of the Confederate flag and the NFL admitting it was wrong to fight the players on kneeling during the national anthem.

Fellow Fairfax County high school J.E.B. Stuart, named after a Confederate general, adopted Justice High School ahead of the 2018-19 school year.  In January 2019, Arlington County high school Washington-Lee changed its name to Washington-Liberty to rid itself of references to top Confederate general Robert E. Lee. A meeting to discuss the name changes for Stonewall Jackson High School and Stonewall Middle School will reportedly be held Monday.