Conference USA CB Rankings 2023: Blue Raiders standout Teldrick Ross Rises Above the Rest

Middle Tennessee loses one standout cornerback but another rises to the fore in our Conference USA CB Rankings for the 2023 college football season.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life. Nina Simone could well have been singing about a new-look Conference USA. Those birds flying high in the classic “Feeling Good” could be the ball-hawking cornerbacks patrolling secondaries across the country.

Who’s the best among them? Our Conference USA CB Rankings 2023 aim to rank the top 20 cornerbacks this fall.

Conference USA CB Rankings

1) Teldrick Ross | Middle Tennessee

Teldrick Ross dominated the defensive box score last fall, logging 22 passes defended. Only Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell had more. Statistics don’t make a cornerback evaluation; however, there’s more to the Middle Tennessee cornerback than just a gaudy stat sheet from a standout campaign last season.

MORE: Conference USA RB Rankings 2023 

The 5’11”, 191-pound versatile defensive back—he’s played nickel, outside CB, and safety for MTSU—plays the game with impressive physicality. He’s a tough tackler and an even tougher coverage corner. Ross cements his place atop our Conference USA CB Rankings with his speed, high-level football intelligence, and a motor that never stops in any phase of the game.

2) Upton Stout | Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky has established itself as a must-watch offensive juggernaut, but it’s time to give their defensive playmakers some credit. Hilltoppers cornerback Upton Stout proved himself to be one of the most productive playmakers in Conference USA football last season with four interceptions—one of which he took to the house for a pick-six.

While that score was more the result of an offensive miscommunication, there are plenty of examples on Stout’s tape where he uses his short-area burst and football IQ to jump routes and make plays. Meanwhile, his physicality at the catch point to separate ball from man ensures 50:50 catches are a business decision not often worth taking for wide receivers.

3) Cedric Woods | Louisiana Tech

The first of two Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the top-5 of our Conference USA CB Rankings, Cedric Woods is primed for a bounce-back year for Sonny Cumbie’s team. Woods missed most of 2022 with an injury, but he’s just a year removed from a campaign where he led the team in pass breakups.

The 5’11”, 184-pound CB is a three-year starter who earned Conference USA All-Freshman honors in 2020. A former high school WR and QB, his knowledge of route concepts is evident on tape. The ability to act upon them is buoyed by impressive speed and the length to impact the catch point in coverage.

4) Willie Roberts | Louisiana Tech

Making a dangerous duo to throw upon when facing the Bulldogs this season, Woods is joined in the top-5 of our Conference USA CB Rankings by teammate Willie Roberts, a transfer from Stephen F. Austin ahead of the 2022 college football campaign. Roberts showed his playmaking immediately, leading all returners to the conference in interceptions per game last fall.

The 5’11”, 190-pound CB snagged four interceptions in his first season at the FBS level, showcasing his ball tracking ability and sticky, reliable hands. Meanwhile, Roberts has shown he can be a force in multiple facets of the game with his use as a blitzer from the nickel position and the physicality to be a reliable tackler in run support.

5) A.J. Odums | UTEP

CFN recently named A.J. Odums as one of the top transfer portal additions to Conference USA following his move to UTEP from New Mexico, where he tallied 48 tackles, one interception, and four pass breakups during an impressive 2022 campaign. He immediately becomes one of the top playmakers in our Conference USA CB rankings.

Odums is a talented disruptor who figures to be a key cog of a UTEP defense that snagged the fewest interceptions in the conference last fall. While he may not seem the most imposing of CBs at 5’11” and 175 pounds, he’s a ferocious tackler who puts his impressive length to good use wrapping up his opponent. That length and good instincts make him a catch-point force.

6) Keonte Glinton | New Mexico State

Another conference newcomer—both player and program this time—enters high up our Conference USA CB Rankings for the 2023 college football season as Keonte Glinton seeks to make his name known to the conference’s wide receivers. The former Wyoming playmaker tallied four pass breakups and 26 tackles in 2022, but his talent goes far beyond the box score.

Glinton possesses the alluring combination of speed, stickiness, physicality, and short-area quickness that are the athletic hallmarks of top-tier cornerback play. Meanwhile, the 5’11” New Mexico State corner mixes athletic attributes with high-level football intelligence to be a dangerous route-jumper who should quickly assert himself in the conference.

7) Kobe Singleton | Liberty

Kobe Singleton arrived in Lynchburg last season, joining the Liberty Flames for his sophomore year after starting his career with Southern Utah. The 6’0″, 180-pound cornerback made an immediate impression, logging six pass breakups, two interceptions, and 26 tackles. Now, he’s set to shine as one of the top cornerbacks in Conference USA for the 2023 campaign.

Singleton boasts outstanding physical tools. His turn of pace is eye-opening, and once he has the ball in his hands in space, there’s not much chance of hunting him down due to his documented 20+ mph speed. His body control, elasticity, and awareness were all evident with a diving interception last fall.

8) Hezekiah Masses | FIU

Hezekiah Massess was named the CFN Conference USA Defensive Rookie of the Year after registering four pass breakups and 25 tackles that included 3.5 for loss in an impressive debut campaign for FIU. He’s a rapidly ascending CB whose name you should get to know before the season starts.

The 6’0″, 160-pound sophomore is a sticky coverage corner who is always around the ball with his football instincts and the athleticism to act upon them. Meanwhile, he’s not afraid to do the dirty work against the run game. He might be slender, but his experience as a high school safety is evident in the physicality he can bring as a tackler.

9) Ilijah Johnson | UTEP

For a team that ranked last in the conference last season, it might be a surprise to see UTEP have two representatives in the top 10 of our Conference USA CB Rankings. However, Ilijah Johnson is set to continue the impressive form that earned him a spot on the All-CUSA Freshman Team following the 2022 season.

The 5’11”, 170-pound CB logged six pass breakups and two interceptions in his first season as a starter, leading the team in both markers. Johnson set the UTEP broad jump record in 2021, and that explosion shows on tape, with short-area quickness to get a jump on

10) Jamari Jemison | Jacksonville State

Rounding out the top 10 of our Conference USA CB Rankings for the 2023 college football season is Jacksonville State standout Jamari Jemison. The Birmingham, AL native has been a leading contributor for the Gamecocks since arriving at the program, contributing one pass breakup, one interception, 36 tackles, and one forced fumble in the 2022 season alone.

MORE: Top 10 Transfer Portal Additions in Conference USA

As Jacksonville State makes the transition to the FBS, Jemison has already shown he can be a playmaker at the level, securing his first career interception against Florida State in 2021. The 5’10”, 175-pound corner is a true speed demon on the football field, utilizing his 10.7-second 100m pace to carry WRs the length of the field.

11) Andre Seldon | New Mexico State

While outside corners dominate our Conference USA CB Rankings for the 2023 college football season, Andre Seldon out of New Mexico State is a nickel corner worth knowing. The 5’8″, 180-pound former Michigan man logged four pass breakups and one interception last fall while showcasing his physicality and impressive straight-line speed. He’s an ascending playmaker.

12) Deonte Stanley | Middle Tennessee

The second MTSU corner to make our Conference USA CB Rankings, Deonte Stanley logged 48 tackles with two for loss and two sacks last fall while adding six pass breakups. At 6’3″, 188 pounds, he’s one of the bigger CBs in CUSA and uses his size as a physical advantage while boasting an impressive athletic profile that saw him also play basketball in high school.

13) Jamal Potts | FIU

Another big cornerback, Jamal Potts stands at 6’2″ and 185 pounds and puts all of that frame to good use when he hits coming downhill. Potts did outstanding work behind the line of scrimmage for FIU last fall, with 6.5 tackles for loss contributing to 56 total tackles. His speed and physicality also make him a coverage force, with five breakups for the Panthers in 2022.

14) Jordan Morris | Sam Houston

Former Coastal Carolina cornerback Jordan Morris committed to Sam Houston ahead of the 2022 campaign and logged 21 tackles, three pass breakups, and an interception in what was a difficult transitional year for the Bearkats. Expect the 6’1″, 180-pound playmaker to use athletic prowess and impressive length to make a name for himself as he returns to the FBS level.

15) Marquis Bell | Liberty

Former JUCO defensive back Marquis Bell joined Liberty this offseason and has the potential to make an immediate impact for the Flames. He tallied 37 tackles at Palomar JC in 2022 while showcasing coverage chops with three interceptions and seven pass breakups. Bell’s ability to break on the ball with lightning acceleration is eye-popping, and he’s an excellent ball tracker.

16) Davion Williams | Western Kentucky

After playing three seasons for Michigan State, Davion Williams transferred to Western Kentucky, where he’s been a feature in the Hilltoppers’ secondary with the potential for a breakout final season. He carries momentum into 2023 after WKU’s bowl game, where his ability as a tackler was on full display. Williams’ size and length make him a danger at the catch point.

17) David Fisher | Sam Houston

One of the most productive members of the Bearkats’ 2022 defense with two interceptions and four pass breakups, David Fisher is set to establish himself at the FBS level with Sam Houston this fall. Boasting high football IQ, Fisher also has a track background from his time at Pearland Dawson High School that is apparent in his play on the football field.

18) Demarcus Griffin | Louisiana Tech

A former JUCO standout at Independence CC, Demarcus Griffin transferred to Houston for the 2021 season before becoming a key contributor for the Cougars last fall. His transfer to Louisiana Tech gives the Bulldogs a physical playmaker whose ferocity coming downhill belies his 5’9″, 175-pound frame. The former WR also displays a good understanding of route concepts.

19) Tyrell Raby | Middle Tennessee

While Middle Tennessee has multiple players in our Conference USA CB Rankings, don’t sleep on transfer Tyrell Raby making an impact this fall. The former Memphis man was a two-way player at the high school level and showcases impressive lateral agility and toughness in his game. He hasn’t seen action in two seasons, but that should change in 2023 at the Blue Raiders.

20) Jabari Mack | Jacksonville State

A freshman in 2022, Jabari Mack saw action in 11 games with two pass breakups and one interception. With the departure of Yul Gowdy, expect Mack to emerge as a starting force for the Gamecocks in their first year at the FBS level. Mack plays with impressive patience for a young player who played WR until 2021. His ball tracking, understandably, is among his best traits.