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2013 football defensive players to watch

By Katherine Dunn

The Baltimore Sun

6:50 PM EDT, August 29, 2013

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Niquekko Cook

Meade, defensive end, senior

A prototypical defensive end at 6 feet 4, 240 pounds, Cook has long arms that make it difficult for offensive linemen to engage him. Last season, he had 48 tackles, seven sacks and two forced fumbles. He has been invited to the NUC All-American Game.

Wyatt Cook

McDonogh, linebacker, junior

A dominating run stopper between the tackles, Cook leads a strong linebacking corps as the Eagles look to make a big move in the MIAA A Conference. The intense 6-2, 235-pound team leader is also a great blitzer. He had 98 tackles and seven sacks a year ago.

Cory Daniel

River Hill, linebacker, senior

A solid tight end for the Class 3A state champion Hawks last season, Daniel should have a breakout season on defense with his intensity and competitiveness. At 6-2, 220 pounds, he was an undefeated state wrestling champion at 195 pounds as a junior.

Nnamdi Egbuaba

St. Frances, linebacker, senior

After only nine months on the gridiron, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker from Nigeria is drawing attention from Football Bowl Subdivision coaches. Also strong at defensive end, Egbuaba had four sacks in the Panthers’ season-opening 48-7 win over Nease (Fla.), proof that he can completely disrupt offenses.

Sherrod Hawkes

Patterson, linebacker, senior

With speed to cover sideline to sideline, Hawkes can play both linebacker and strong safety. Doubling as the Clippers’ featured running back, he also carries the ball about 25 times a game. At 5-10, 195 pounds, he added 10 pounds over the summer.

Marcus Hicks

Old Mill, defensive back, senior

The 5-10, 170-pound All-Metro safety made at least one big play in every game last year, finishing with 76 tackles, six interceptions and five forced fumbles. His versatility kept him on the field as a running back and on special teams. He returned one kickoff for 100 yards.

Melvin Keihn

Gilman, defensive end, senior

A Rivals.com four-star prospect with many FBS offers, Keihn will take a more vocal leadership role on a young defense while continuing to lead with his outstanding speed off the edge. The All-Metro selection had 13 sacks and nine tackles for loss for the MIAA A Conference champions.

Logan Kirby

River Hill, lineman, senior

A third-year starter, the 5-11, 215-pound nose guard excels in a 3-5 defense with the speed and agility to get to the backfield. He had 90 tackles last season — 21 for a loss — as well as 5.5 sacks and two caused fumbles. He will also start on the offensive line.

Zach Nicholas

Mount Hebron, defensive back, senior

The 5-11, 190-pound safety, who is committed to Buffalo, had 75 tackles (35 unassisted), four forced fumbles and two interceptions last season. He also accounted for more than 1,000 yards of total offense, including a school-record 90-yard touchdown run from scrimmage.

Troy Vincent Jr.

Gilman, defensive back, senior

The son of the former NFL cornerback, Vincent has the technique and footwork to excel at the same position. Opponents rarely threw in his direction, but he had two interceptions and 25 tackles last season. A Rivals.com four-star prospect, he has committed to Penn State.

Other notables

Jordan Adams, Franklin

Quantaye Battle, St. Frances

Robert Branch, Gilman

Kiandre Burrell, Franklin

Robert Carter, Long Reach

Walter Cooper, Edmondson

Anthony Corrao, River Hill

Titus DiPaola, Maryland Christian

Mohamed El-Zein, Reservoir

Ellison Jordan, Gilman

Chris Fatogama, New Town

Jake Fernandez, Manchester Valley

Donovan Franklin, Old Mill

Matt Gillespie, Loyola

Chris Galloway, River Hill

Melvin Gowl, Archbishop Spalding

Dennis Harrell, Kenwood

Malik Jackson, Wilde Lake

Raymond Jackson, Dunbar

Ricardo Johnson, Archbishop Curley

Kwame Kumah, Arundel

Aubrey Moffet, Mervo

Kareem Montgomery, McDonogh

Marcus Morgan, Reginald F. Lewis

John Morrissey, Westminster

Mason Phoenix, Calvert Hall

Keifer Rawlings, St. Paul’s

Landon Reecher, Broadneck

Nick Salatino, Hereford

Donta Smith, Douglass

Rahshaun Smith, Calvert Hall

Dillan Solo, Mount Hebron

Damarco Spears, New Town

Derrick Tate, Edmondson

Rashawd Thompson, Milford Mill

Brock Turnbaugh, Hereford

Jake Utz, Winters Mill

Diondre Wallace, Arundel

Osiah Walker, C. Milton Wright

Noah Watkins, Maryland Christian

Zach Wolfrey, South Carroll

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com