15 Best Cornerbacks in College Football 

Week 0 of the 2023 college football season is rapidly approaching, so it’s time to pick up the preview pace. Ranking the sport’s top cornerbacks is a topic of constant discussion.

Teams are frantically hoping they’ve made the right picks for their roster in their bid to dethrone the game’s late champion, or better still, maintain the position, as NFL players head into their summer break, with many weeks of rest to come before training camp.

A crucial component of accomplishing this will be to ensure that the pass rush and secondary are top-notch, with the latter requiring the presence of at least one strong cornerback to aid the cause.

Unfortunately, not every team can make such a claim. However, some might have more than one elite cornerback to throw at any quarterback/receiver combination.

Now that has been established, let’s look at the best cornerbacks in college football—players who consistently affect game results and set the bar high for their position.

It’s just impossible for every player to make it to the list of the best cornerbacks in college football. 

In this article, we will reveal the best cornerbacks in college football, if this is your question, stay with us!

What is College Football?

Students from colleges or American universities play college football, a type of American football. To play against one another, students from various colleges form teams. The job of the coaches is to find students who are top high school athletes and get them to join their teams.

Parents, professors, former players, students, and college football enthusiasts all take part in the game, which pits two teams of 11 players each against one another for the top four positions.

There are four 15-minute quarters in each of the 60 minutes that make up a college football game. The first two quarters end with a 20-minute intermission. Before the start of the second half, the players use the halftime break to rehydrate while the coaches use it to strategize with their team.

Not all students are qualified to play on a college football team, but the coaches assemble a roster of players for the defensive, offensive, and special teams from those who do.

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Cornerbacks In College Football: Who Are They?

A defensive backfield or secondary player, often known as the defensive backfield or secondary in America and including the positions of safety and linebacker, plays the positional role of cornerback (CB), sometimes known as a corner.

Roles of Cornerbacks In College Football 

In football, the cornerback’s responsibilities as a part of the defense must be made clear.

Members of the defensive secondary are cornerbacks.

In college football, a cornerback’s primary duty is to obstruct the opposition’s passing strategy.

When a running back or quarterback escapes the defensive line and linebackers on a run play, cornerbacks must be able to bring them down.

Members of the defensive team are required to be in the defensive area or zone at the start of play, although beginning position, movement, or coverage zones are not specified by the NFL Rulebook or the NCAA for defensive team players.

The club assigns each defensive player their specific positions, movements, and duties. So instead of being determined by rules, the positional assignments are customarily determined by the defensive captain or coach before the start of the play by patterns of coverage. 

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Throughout the development of American football, these responsibilities have changed. The best cornerbacks in college football’s main defensive duty are to lawfully obstruct or interfere with any forward pass attempts made by the opposing offense.

The cornerback can also tackle a ball carrier from the opposing team.

At different stages of play, the rules for how to proceed to vary. For instance, a cornerback at the professional level is not permitted to make any touch with an eligible receiver after five yards. However, any level below the pros can keep some contact to determine the receiver’s location.

Depending on how severely the rule was broken, pass interference is usually the consequence for a cornerback who is found to have violated the rules of contact with a receiver.

Shadow Receiver

In coverage, a cornerback’s (or safety’s) job is to take on the position of a “shadow receiver” for forwarding passes.

A defensive player in coverage may interfere with the ball while it is in flight or while it is being attempted to be caught but may not push or strike the opposing player to prevent him from catching the ball.

Pass interference is when an offensive or defensive player breaks the rules and penalizes the offending team.

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15 Best Cornerbacks in College Football in 2023

Here are the best cornerbacks in college football from the best 15 heading into the 2023 season. Here is the order from least to top, name and their team (which represents the University).

#15. Emmanuel Forbes from Mississippi State Team

Among the cornerbacks in college football, Emmanuel Forbes ranks 15.

In the 2021 season, Emmanuel Forbes was engaged in 13 games. He defended four passes and had three interceptions.

The Mississippi team has one thing lacking: the number of impact players. Emmanuel leads as the defender of this team.

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#14. D.J. Turner from Michigan Wolverines Team

A memorable thing Turner gave college football was to have secured a name for himself even after having just one season to play at Michigan. Turner defended seven passes and secured two interceptions.

He did a lot of training and hard work to be ranked number 14 in the list of best cornerbacks in college football.

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#13. Josh DeBerry from the Boston College Eagles team

The 2023 game would make it the fourth season Josh has been playing as a cornerback.

All through his career as a cornerback, he has defended a total of eleven passes and has also had three interceptions.

It’s no news that the team Boston College Eagles has a good number of the offense side, yet Josh remains the best player when it comes to the defense. He ranks 13 on the list of best cornerbacks in college football.

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#12. Jason Marshall from the Florida Gators team

Jason played for Florida in the freshman season. He had a total of three passes and one interception.

Of truth, Florida had a great challenge with their defense in the year 2021, but with the presence of Jason on the team, they are likely to have an improvement in the 2023 season.

Among the top 15, he takes the 12th position among the best cornerbacks in college football. 

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#11. Taiwan Mullen from the Indiana Hoosiers team

It was in the 2020 season that Taiwan had four passes defended and three interceptions.

Even though he had an ankle injury, he played in a total of five games in the 2021 college football season.

With this, he ranks as the 11th-best cornerback in college football. 

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#10. Denzel Burke from the Ohio State Buckeyes team 

As a freshman, Ohio hardly agrees you play a major game. However, Denzel was given an opportunity to and he did a good job.

Altogether, he defended 12 passes and one interception. This exposed his great talent for the future. He is among the best cornerbacks in college football and ranks 10 on the list.

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#9. Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson from TCU Horned Frogs Team

In the 2020 season, Hedges has a total of seven passes defended and two interceptions.

It’s no news that in every season, Hedges has a record of performing much better than the previous season. With his pace, he is likely to top the list soon.

#8. Kyu Blu Kelly from the Stanford Cardinal team

Kelly has been a shining light on the Stanford team ever since he joined. In the 2021 season, the record says that Kelly had eleven passes defended and a total of two interceptions. 

Among Kelly’s interceptions, he had one returned as a touchdown. This has earned him his place as the eighth corner on the list of the best cornerbacks in college football.

#7. Cam Hart from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish team

In the 2021 season, Cam Hart defended seven passes and had two interceptions.

We expect so much from him in the 2023 season as he showed us how alert he was in the coverage last season.

The Notre Dame team would have their first game against the Ohio State team, hence, Cam work hard in week 1.

#6. Joey Porter Jr. from the Penn State Nittany Lions team

You’ll agree with me that Joey took after his dad in his dad’s history of the football field. It’s almost impossible to talk about a talented corner and not mention Joey Porter.

Porter would have to keep fit to avoid anything that would jeopardize this win in the 2023 season.

#5. Riley Moss from the Iowa Hawkeyes team

Besides the game where Riley struggled against Kentucky, he had played well in the 2021 season.

He defended five passes and had a total of four interceptions. It’s no news that Riley Moss would take Iowa to the Championship.

It’s no news that he’s among the best cornerbacks in college football.

#4. Clark Phillips III from the Utah Utes team

Last season, Clark delivered with thirteen passes defended and two interceptions.

Anyone playing against Phillips in the 2023 season is sure to have put in a whole lot of work.

#3. Cam Smith from South Carolina Gamecocks team

Cam ranks third in the list of the best cornerbacks in college football. Most of what Cam Smith knows, he learnt from Jaycee Horn.

In the last two seasons, he was able to achieve five interceptions and a total of thirteen passes defended. With Cam Smith in South Carolina’s team, they have confidence. 

#2. Kelee Ringo from the Georgia Bulldogs team

Kelee started as a freshman in the Georgia Bulldogs team but today, he is tagged as a leader of the defence in the team.

In the 2021 game, he was able to achieve eight defended passes and two interceptions. He competes with Eli on the list of the best cornerbacks in college football. 

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#1. Eli Ricks from the Alabama Crimson Tide team

Hardly would you find a player leaving LSU to join Alabama. Eli left LSU and became a part of the Alabama team. In the 2021 season, he was able to achieve one interception and one pass defended. 

Eli’s fame flew abroad when, during his freshman days, he had five passes defended and four interceptions. He tops the list of the best cornerbacks in college football. 

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Skills To Have To Be Among The Best Cornerbacks in College Football


To be ranked among the best Cornerbacks in college football, you must be quick, agile, and have outstanding instincts because they are an essential part of any defensive secondary.

A cornerback’s skill set often includes the ability to man-to-man coverage, disrupt throw patterns, jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, read the quarterback, comprehend zone coverage, and tackle in the open field.

The duties of a corner change depending on how the defense protects its defensive secondary to deal with the offense. A corner is assigned to either zone or man-to-man coverage when defending.

A cornerback in college football usually starts a play in pass coverage with just one receiver. Cornerbacks commonly alternate between “man-to-man” coverage and “zone” coverage, the two primary pass coverage types, depending on the defensive coordinator’s call for the scheme or approach.

Throughout the time of the game, the cornerback will always block this receiver if he has been assigned the role of “man-to-man” coverage.

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Physical Skills

Due to the high degree of speed, physicality, and endurance required to play the positions, cornerbacks are among the most athletic players on a football team in college football. 

The following physical attributes are some of the prerequisites for playing cornerback:

The Mental Side

Which secondary position is optimal for a player can be determined by mental and personality traits:

A cornerback is often an expert in coverage, with a laser-like focus and the capacity to strike swiftly.

Cornerbacks often face off against receivers one-on-one or in isolation from the rest of the defense thus they must be psychologically strong to withstand the strain. One has to be mentally fit and alert to be ranked among the best cornerbacks in college football. 


Being among the best cornerbacks in college football is not an easy one. All the 15 best cornerbacks listed above earned theirs through hard work and consistency and perform excellently in every game they engage in, making it hard to overlook their expertise. 

It’s no coincidence that they are among the best cornerbacks in college football.

Frequently Asked Questions

How hard is it to be made a cornerback?

Being a cornerback is one of the hardest to become in college football. It requires that one is highly emotionally alert and fits in the body.

Is there the safest position in football?

Safety positions are two in number: Free Safety, and Strong Safety. Typically, strong safety is both powerful and quick. Although they frequently have to come up in run support.

What skill must a cornerback have?

A cornerback must be swift, quick, and agile.

What’s the importance of a good cornerback?

A strong cornerback can take the best wide receiver in an offense away, and they can even make the other offense rely more on rushing plays.

Must a cornerback be small in size?

Being small in size is an advantage as a cornerback. It would aid in moving quickly.

Is a cornerback offensive?

Cornerbacks act on the defensive side. Their work is to fight against the offensive team.


  • pff.com– 2023 College Football Preseason Rankings: Top 25 cornerbacks
  • stayaliveinpower5.com – College Football’s 20 best cornerbacks of 2023
  • pff.com – Top 10 returning cornerbacks in college football for the 2023 season


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