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Eric Sondheimer has been covering high school sports for the Los Angeles Times since 1997 and in Southern California since 1976. Get his latest from the field and follow all our prep sports coverage and analysis here.


Defensive backs will be strongest position in Southland

Junior Mykael Wright of Valencia. (Eric Sondheimer)
Junior Mykael Wright of Valencia. (Eric Sondheimer)

Considering how much passing is taking place at the high school, college and professional level, it came as no surprise that a record number of defensive backs were taken in this year's NFL draft. There were 32 corners and 24 safeties selected.

That makes it good timing for Southern California to have lots of quality defensive backs this season and showcase what I believe is the most depth of any position.

Let's start with the St. John Bosco trio of Jaiden Woodbey (Ohio State), Stephan Blaylock (UCLA) and junior Chris Steele, who's wanted by everybody. The Braves are so strong in the secondary that several backups, like junior Jake Bailey, have scholarship offers.

Gardena Serra has heavily recruited safety Bryce Addison and outstanding junior cornerback Max Williams. Aashari Crosswell of Long Beach Poly is a USC commit and Olaijah Griffin of Mission Viejo is a UCLA commit.

Chase Williams of Eastvale Roosevelt is headed to Nebraska. Mykel Wright of Valencia and Jeremiah Criddell of Rancho Cucamonga are top junior cornerbacks.

From the City Section, Ja'Lani Ellison of Reseda led the state with 15 interceptions last season. Romeo Doubs of Jefferson had eight interceptions and is committed to Nevada.

Julius Irvin and Trent McDuffie are part of a talented secondary at Servite.

Jhevon Hill of Cajon is headed to Arizona, and Jaden Dedman of Upland is headed to Nevada. Elijah Doyle of Alemany is committed to Arizona State.

There's plenty more and an indication of how fast, athletic players are finding success covering receivers in the era of lots of passing.

Note: The Times begins its nine-part series previewing Southern California's top players on Wednesday.

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