Football preview: Defensive players to watch
The Hawks' starting defense allowed four touchdowns last season, and Johnson's pass coverage was one of the reasons. Johnson (6-0, 165), who has committed to Wake Forest, has great speed and footwork. (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron / December 6, 2008)
Dunbar, defensive end, senior
A transfer from Parkville, Alaeze has drawn a lot of attention from colleges with his aggressive style and the speed to constantly harass opponents. At 6 feet 1, 225 pounds, he has a "motor that just doesn't stop," Poets coach Lawrence Smith said.
Franklin, defensive back, junior
Brown led the Indians with four interceptions and had 26 tackles in a breakout season last fall. A quick, elusive two-way player, Brown (5-9, 165) also gained 1,401 all-purpose yards, including 475 rushing, and scored 13 touchdowns.
Gilman, lineman, senior
The Iowa-bound Ferguson (6-2, 280) is one reason the Greyhounds have high expectations this season for their defense. He had 73 tackles - including 13 for a loss - and six sacks and recovered three fumbles last year.
Mount St. Joseph, cornerback, senior
Orally committed to Virginia Tech, Fuller (6-0, 165) had 54 tackles last season and ran back an interception, two punts and a kickoff for touchdowns. He won't get off the field much, also playing special teams and possibly starting at quarterback.
Old Mill, linebacker, senior
Furman is still sorting through about 15 college offers after recording 87 tackles and eight sacks last season. Furman (6-2, 195) also makes his mark on offense, having run for 800 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.
Emmanuel Gbor Eastern Tech, defensive end, senior
Gbor had 11 sacks last season and will be a key to the Mavericks' defense, which likely will be their strength. Also a 900-yard rusher as a fullback, Gbor (5-11, 180) was instrumental in the Mavericks' run to a second straight Class 2A state final.
Kevin Johnson River Hill, cornerback, senior
The Hawks' starting defense allowed four touchdowns last season, and Johnson's pass coverage was one of the reasons. Johnson (6-0, 165), who has committed to Wake Forest, has great speed and footwork.
Reynard Parks Dunbar, linebacker, senior
Another transfer who will bolster the Poets' already-strong defense, Parks arrives from Calvert Hall with a vocal leadership style and a knack for reading offenses. Coach Lawrence Smith expects a breakout season for Parks (5-11, 210).
Jim Poggi Gilman, linebacker, senior
At 6-2, 218 pounds, the son of Greyhounds coach Biff Poggi shows great closing speed in chasing down the ball, finishing last season with 131 tackles and nine sacks. He has orally committed to join teammate Anthony Ferguson at Iowa.
Tyler Weedon Catonsville, linebacker, junior
An All-Metro first-team pick as a sophomore, Weedon (5-11, 230) had started every game since his freshman year before breaking his hand in his ninth game last year, and has drawn some major interest from Division I schools. Last season, he led the Comets with 148 tackles, 16.4 per game.
Nathan Ayers, Dunbar
Josh Barben, North Harford
James Bedgood, Chesapeake-BC
James Brittingham, Kenwood
Keon Brunson, Poly
Ryan Burghauser, North Harford
Pat Carey, North County
Devin Clark, Dunbar
Vinny DePaola, Hereford
Bryan Ellis, McDonogh
Ben Fowler, Perry Hall
E.J. Gilman, Wilde Lake
Donny Guido, Eastern Tech
Mount St. Joseph
Dominic Harper, Joppatowne
Davon Johnson, Woodlawn
Terrell Johnson, Arch. Spalding
Tyler Krug, Westminster
Mikio Manuel, Severna Park
Aaron Moore, Edmondson
Kevin Moore, River Hill
Ryan Orem, Franklin
Bobby Partilla, Arundel
Kendall Saunders, Annapolis
Randy Spann, Old Mill
Stephen St. Clair, John Carroll
Devonte Taylor, Havre de Grace
Mwanza Wamulumba, Meade
Gentry White, Mount St. Joseph
Kyle Young, Centennial