Sports in Kansas: 25 Defensive Backs to Watch for 2021

Tyson Struber is looking for a fourth straight all-state season. photo: Bethany Bowman Sports in Kansas

25 to Watch for the 2021 season

(List is not ranked or in any order)

Tyson Struber, Canton Galva, Sr.

Struber earned 8M-I POY on the defense two years ago from Sports in Kansas and all-state in each of the last three seasons. The Kansas State commit could go down as one of the best 8-man players of all-time after this season.

Tobi Osunsanmi, Wichita East, Sr.

Osunsanmi is one of the top athletes in the state for the 2021 football season with his size and speed. He has committed to Kansas State.

Noah Palmer, Olathe North, Sr., Jacob Parrish, Olathe North, Sr. , Will Krzykowski, Olathe West, Sr.

Palmer picked off five passes last year and also doubled as a star on the offensive side of the football. North is loaded at skill spots for 2021. Parrish had three interceptions last year and will be one of the top offensive players in 6A. Krzykowski of Olathe West has great size at 6’2” and 200 pounds after earning all-league at defensive back and kick returner last year.

Chaz Ruffin, Junction City, Sr.

Ruffin earned first team all-non senior honors from Sports in Kansas last year. He was also a first team All-Centennial League selection last season.

Kade Harris, TMP, Jr.

Harris had 98 stops last year along with two interceptions to lead the Monarch defense. Harris is also a standout quarterback and will be one of the top two-way players in 2A.

Braxton Harrison, Cimarron, Sr.

Harrison was an all-league pick last season on offense, defense and utility in the GWAC. He will look to be one of the best players in Western Kansas this season. He had five interceptions last season.

Damon Redeker, Olpe, Sr.

Redeker returns to lead an Olpe defense with Ted Skalsky that allowed only 35 points all season under HC Chris Schmidt as they won the 1A title. Redeker was a first team all-state selection last year and returns as the teams signal caller for 2021. Eagles are the favorite in 1A.

Corey Aikins, Derby, Sr.

Aikins was a second-team All-Non Senior pick last season from Sports in Kansas. He returns to lead a Derby secondary that is always solid. Panthers looking to four-peat in 6A.

Jett Vincent, Wheatland-Grinnell, Jr.

Vincent could go down as one of the best 8-man defensive backs of all-time statistically if he continues to put up numbers like he has in his first two seasons. He has 22 interceptions over his first two seasons as a defensive back for the 8M-II Thunderhawks. He’s also a standout WR. His brother, Trey, is the teams QB who threw for 1,739 yards, 839 of which went to Jett. Isaac Mendez also returns after rushing for 1,607 yards last season. Jesse Vincent has some players.

Kinser Newquist, Hutchinson, Sr., Britton Forsythe, Maize South, Sr.

Newquist was a second team All-Non senior pick from Sports in Kansas last season as he led the Salthawks secondary. Hutch (5A) was one of the most improved teams in the state last season. Forsythe was a first team all-league selection last season for Maize South.

Michael Allen, Blue Valley, Sr., Zach Yates, Blue Valley Northwest, Sr.

Allen and Yates were the lone all-non seniors on the first team All-Blue Valley list last season that are returning with the McCullough brothers of BV North moving to Indiana. Both teams are expecting big-time years in the EKL and 6A.

Joel Deters, Mission Valley, Sr.

Deters had eight interceptions last year for Mission Valley. He will look to be one of the best defensive backs in 2A. He’s also a standout wide receiver.

Kade Wilson, Valley Center, Sr.

Wilson picked off four passes a year ago for the Hornets in 5A. Expect him to be one of the top DBs in Wichita for 2021.

Wesley Fair, Collegiate, Jr.

Fair is a two-way standout for the Collegiate Spartans. He doubles as the team’s quarterback and will look to be a recruit as an ATH at the next level. A lot you can do with Fair, one of the most athletic juniors in Wichita.

Brett Sarwinski, Galena, Sr., Jaxson Haraughty, Columbus, Sr., Landin Midgett, Columbus, Jr., Mario Menghini, Frontenac, Jr.

CNC league has quite the talent back for 2021. Sarwinski was a first team all-3A selection at defensive back last season and is a four-sport star for the Galena Bulldogs after earning 3A basketball player of the year in 2021 for the state runner-up Bulldogs. Haraughty and Midgett can play anywhere on the field on both sides of the ball. They are hybrid type players but Haraughty is a ball-hawk at corner while Midgett can play defensive back and outside backer. These three will highlight Southeast Kansas at DB in 2021. Menghini was a first team all-league selection at running back as a sophomore and second team all-league selection at defensive back. He has great size at 6’2.5” 185 pounds with a lot of speed.

Colby Klieman, Manhattan, Sr.

Klieman had 54 tackles last season along with one fumble return and six pass breakups with a touchdown for the Manhattan HS Indians. He may not be the biggest guy on the film but he has an impressive junior highlight film. Expect a big year for Klieman.

Chase Poague, SE of Saline, Sr.

Poague is one of the best athletes on the list. He doubled up last season in the 3A boys hurdles (110s and 300s). Expect a big senior year.

Korin Koenig, Riley County, Sr., Yanci Spiller, Rock Creek, Jr., Brogan Renfro, Silver Lake, Sr., Torrey Horak, Rossville, Sr.

Koenig picked off four passes for Riley County last season as he earned all-league first team. Several key pieces return for the Falcons who have been a team to beat over the last few seasons. Spiller is looking for a big year for Rock Creek after registering 30 tackles and two interceptions as a sophomore last fall. Renfro was a first team All-MEL selection last season as a junior. He will double as one of the best two-way players in 2A this season. Horrak is known for his ability as one of the best offensive players in all of Kansas but we expect him to also have a big year if needed defensively.

Sam Kleidosty, Tonganoxie, Sr., Zach Knowlton, Spring Hill, Sr.

Tongie loses a lot to graduation in a lot of spots after another successful season in 2020. Kleidosty will be the top returning player on the Chieftain defense for 2021. Knowlton returns for a big senior year after earning all-frontier league last season. Kleidosty and Knowlton were the lone non-seniors on the first team all-league list as a DB from any school last season

Garrett Fager, Osage City, Sr., Trey Rogers, West Franklin, Jr.,

Fager, a standout baseball player, will also be a standout 2A football player this fall after picking off five passes for Osage City last year as a junior. Expect him and QB Landon Boss to have big-time years for OC. Rogers picked off eight passes last season as a sophomore for Pomona-West Franklin.

Bodi Isenhower, Prairie View, Sr.

Isenhower was a first team all-league selection last season in the Pioneer League. Kyle Littrell has done great work at PV and they are a team on the rise in 3A. Expect a big year for Isenhower on both sides of the football.

Will Gavin, Aquinas, Sr.

Gavin is an athletic safety with 6’1” 185 pound size that should be one of the best defensive backs in the Eastern Kansas league.

Caleb Wiese, Garden City, Jr.

Wiese was the lone sophomore on the All-WAC first team defense last year. He looks to have another huge year in 6A for head coach Brian Hill. He returns with Joel Bellows (LB) and Terrell Elliott (DL) to lead the GC defense.

Kaiden Seamster, Chanute, Soph.

Seamster returns after earning first team All-SEK as a freshman in high school last season. He is a rising prospect in the Class of 2024. Chanute may have the most team speed in 4A this season. We expect the Comets to be the favorite to win their league in 2021.

Jason Bosley, Jackson Heights, Sr., Parrish Beagle, Maur Hill, Jr.

Bosley and Beagle earned first team All-Northeast Kansas League last season. Beagle picked off five passes from a year ago for MHMA.


Mason Ellis (Mulvane), Jaren Kanak (Hays), Silas Etter (Eudora) are athletes that can play in multiple spots whether that be outside backer, corner, free safety, strong safety. All have been on multiple lists and serve as swiss army knifes for their teams on both sides of the ball

Question Marks?

Mill Valley, Miege, Derby, Carroll, Aquinas, Wichita Northwest, Andale, St. James Academy always have solid play in the defensive backfield. We expect them to have solid overall units. The majority of these programs were hit heavy by graduation so you will see several new names emerge. Hays has multiple players that can play everywhere and Jaren Kanak could easily play safety at the next level but was listed on our linebackers to watch list.

Kris Hoverstadt, Burlingame, Sr. Grant Schoenrock, Victoria, Sr., Shayden Shull, Hartford, Sr., Emmit Jueneman, Hanover, Sr., Ben Busse, St. Francis, Jace Schoen, Lakeside-Downs, Sr., Derek Keith, Hill City, Sr., Caden Rathgeber, South Barber, Sr., Gatlin Jewell, South Barber, Sr., Isaac Detweiler, Axtell, Jr., Colby Stull, LaCrosse, Sr., Spencer Coup, Solomon, Pablo Bermudez, Cheylin, Soph., Logan McCarty, Cheylin, Soph.,

Hoverstadt had 10 interceptions last season for Burlingame and will look to be one of the best DBs in 8M-I. Schoenrock is one of the best two-way 8-man players in the state after earning all-state at defensive back last season. Shull is one of the top 8M-Ii defensive backs in the state after earning all-state first team honors in 2020 as a junior. Jueneman is a freakishly athletic senior that is the returning 1A-II basketball player of the year. We expect him to step up big-time in leading state power Hanover.  Busse was a ball-hawk last season with seven interceptions for Sainty in 8M-II. Schoen had five interceptions for Lakeside-Downs and over 900 receiving. He will look to be one of the top two-way 8-man players in Kansas. Keith had four interceptions for HC last year. He will look to be one of the top DBs in 8-man western Kansas. Rathgeber had four interceptions last year for South Barber and Jewell had three. Detweiler is an 8-man star quarterback but he also doubles as a solid defender that had three interceptions as a sophomore last year. Stull will be a standout on both ways in 2021 and was a first team all-league selection out of the Central Prairie League on both sides of the ball in 2020. Coup had three interceptions last year as a freshman for the Solomon Gorillas. Bermudez picked off eight passes last season as a freshman for 6-man state champion Cheylin, while McCarty picked off five.

Others to Watch (DBs) from Sports in Kansas for 2021:

Nate Jerguson – Olathe East, Jaeden Hamilton – Wichita Heights, Britton Forysthe – Maize South, Kameron Daboe – Schlagle, Zach Yates, BV Northwest, Dajni Brooks – Aquinas, Sam Kleidosty – Tonganoxie, Levi Knoll – Holcomb, Bree Williams – Caney Valley, Ashtun Villagomez – Collegiate, Joel Ford – Phillipsburg, Matthew Potucek – Hillbboro, Brogan Renfro – Silver Lake, Jackson Rexroat – Beloit, Michael Polley – Bishop Carroll, Cooper Buessing – Bishop Carroll, Kendyn Blank – Inman, Jason Bosley – Jackson Heights, Tony Detwiler – Central Heights, Anders Dewey – Plainville, Toby Miller – Lyndon, Duke Kinley – Remington, Will Schmidt – Oakley, Jace Doerksen – Inman, Kase Ptacek – Moundridge, Colby Stull – La Crosse, Tayden Tindle – West Elk, Theron Wedel – Medicine Lodge, Drew Withington – Rawlins Co., Jake Wiens – Goessel, Dylan Bice, Thunder Ridge, Sr., Thomas Smith – Peabody Burns, Ryan Heier – Wheatland Grinnell, Javon Allen – Liberal, Nathan Bowman – Bucklin, Kaden Foust – Otis Bison, Cayde Welsh – Triplains-Brewster, Wyatt Lingenfelter – MDCV, Kaden Foust – Otis Bison, Cooper Brown – Lakeside, Frank Wichert – Hillsboro, Cayde Welsch – Brewster, Jesus Casas – Skyline, Lake Hamilton – Goddard, Daniel Mans – Garden Plain, Braelen Stallbaumer – Hanover, Drew Kaufman – BVNW, Dalton Regan – Otis Bison, Cooper Hayden – Pittsburg, Izayan Beach – Wichita South, Brady Roberts – Douglass, Jaden Coleman – Dighton, Trent Whiteman – Udall, Jacob Partridge – Peabody Burns, Zach Hirschey – Manhattan, Jayden Dukes – McPherson, Ben Hansen – Plainville, Parrish Beagle – Maur Hill, Conner Harnden – A&A, Stryker Hake – Concordia, Luke Bates – SJ/Tipton, Matt Lierz – Holton, Grayden Stapleton – Meade, Ryan Heiman – Garden City, Kale Hammerschmidt – Eudora, Chris Palacios – Holcomb, Richie Patrick – Lansing, Luke Davies – Lebo, Angelo Saunders – De Soto, Charlie Tadlock – Desoto, Kaden Stones – Jefferson West, Bentley Montgomery – Smith Center, Nathan Jaeger – Smith Center, Cael Moses – Maize, Zach Knowlton – Spring Hill, Diante Campbell – Buhler, Eli Oliver – Wabaunsee, Zak Svendsen – Blue Valley, Jaydon Sundgren – El Dorado, Tiernan Reed-Cox – Ottawa, Tre Richardson – Highland Park, Luke Hirsch – Newton, Ben Reyes – Newton, Jonah Remsberg – Newton, Matthew Smith – Pittsburg, Austin McKechnie – Pittsburg, Tommy Lally – Basehor Linwood, Sebastian Mariano – BVNW, Jack Schneider – BV West, Connor Stratton – BVN, Alonzo Morgan – BVN, Joel Bryan – Hiawatha, Kaden Ireland – Seaman, Jalen VanBecelaere – Colgan, Divante Herrig-Brittian – Piper, Dominque Herrig-Brittian – Piper, Servando Gonzalez – Lakin, Luke Gebhardt – SE Saline, Lane Musselman – Clay Center, Cav Carlgren – Concordia, Kaleb Becker – Abilene, Eli Lang – Minneola, Brady Deges – South Gray, Connor Pore – Kiowa County, Tucker Uhl – South Central, Garrett Seely – Jayhawk Linn, Cade Burdette – Southeast, Cooper Ramsey – Garden City, Dalton Mackley – Weskan, Jace Wunderlich – Central Burden, Amir Luten – Coffeyville, Jaxson Kolzow – Salina Central, Kaden McDaniel – Augusta, Trey Buckbee – McPherson, Mekhi Haskin-Ybarra – Wellington, Cody Parthemer – Andale, Jack Francis – Chaparral, Quincy Thomas – Cheney, Logan McLain – South Haven, Mikey Bergeron – Mill Valley, Jason Smith – Mill Valley, Jay Ybarra- Mill Valley, Holden Zigmant – Mill Valley

Several return after having big seasons in 2020. Check out who to watch in 2021 from the most complete list in Kansas by the most trusted source in sports information in Kansas. This lists main purpose is to represent the entire state from every class. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we will do this position by position. Chet Kuplen, CEO/Founder of Sports in Kansas, evaluates players every year based on performance from prior year, our all-state lists from last year and events (camps/combines) he sees players across the state with input from several coaches and media members. This is not a recruiting list or prospect list and players are not ranked or in any special order. This list is powered by Seatbelts Are For Everyone, Nex-Tech Wireless, American Implement and Mammoth Sports Construction. Be on the lookout for our postseason honors after the 2021 season on who will be the Top 100 seniors in Kansas and who will make the Sports in Kansas All Non-Senior Team, Player of the Year honors etc. While its impossible for us to check out every player in the state, we have a pretty good track record at going into detail like no other outlet in the state and don’t rank players just to sell a subscription to an online service that cost, WE ARE FREE and a trusted source. If you ever have a player that you think we should take a look at be sure to DM @sportsinkansas or [email protected] as tips coming in can always help out on who we should check out! If you are interested in a premium player evaluation contact Chet Kuplen by TEXT at 620-719-0283 or email [email protected] Several player evaluations landed major offers over the last ten football seasons.

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