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Pennsylvania's top high school football players for 2023: Meet the defensive backs

Who are the top high school cover corners and safeties in Pennsylvania in 2023?
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The 2023 high school football season is finally here.

SBLive set out to find the best offensive and defensive players in the state at each position.

We started with the quarterbacks, running backs and linebackers. Next up is a look at the top defensive backs in Pennsylvania entering the 2023 season. Corners and safeties from all classifications received consideration.

There are plenty of standout football players in Pennsylvania, and these lists are not intended to be comprehensive. Tag us on X or Instagram at @SBLivePA to discuss the other offensive linemen worthy of fans’ attention in 2023. You can also submit player nominations to

(Note: These lists were compiled prior to the first week of the season)

(Photo of Imhotep Charter defensive back Kenneth Woseley by Paul Burdick)

Omillio Agard, sr., St. Joseph’s Prep

Agard had 15 pass breakups, three interceptions and 35 tackles a season ago as St. Joseph’s Prep captured its seventh state title in the past 10 years. The four-star Wisconsin commit was voted Class 6A all-state.

Idriz Ahmetovic, sr., New Oxford

A native of Bosnia, Ahmetovic picked off a school-record seven passes and had 29 tackles during his junior season for New Oxford. He received Class 5A all-state recognition. As a senior, Ahmetovic is also going to be the team’s starting quarterback.

Brandon Banks, sr., Aliquippa

Banks shined on both sides of the ball as a junior, recording 33 tackles, 16 pass breakups and four interceptions on defense while scoring six touchdowns on offense. He is slated to play defensive back in college for Yale.

Aiden Barlett, sr., Hughesville

Barlett picked off seven passes from the safety position during his junior season for Hughesville. He also had 97 total tackles and made the Class 2A all-state team.

Antwan Black Jr., jr., Laurel Highlands

Black Jr. plays running back, receiver and cornerback for Laurel Highlands, but his play on defense will be his meal ticket at the next level. Black Jr. was impressive enough as a sophomore to earn a scholarship offer from Penn State.

Jah Jah Boyd, sr., Roman Catholic

Boyd can play anywhere in the defensive backfield, but the senior really shines as a cover corner for Roman Catholic. In July, Boyd committed to James Madison.

Mikey Crawford, sr., Western Beaver

Crawford attends Lincoln Park and plays basketball for the school. Lincoln Park doesn’t field a football team, so Crawford suits up on Friday nights for Western Beaver. He nearly has as many Division I football offers (five) as high school games played (six).

Jason Cross, sr., Bishop Canevin

Cross can play every skill position on the field, but he is at his best in the defensive backfield. The West Virginia commit had 59 tackles (11 for loss) and six interceptions en route to Class 1A all-state honors as a junior. He also passed for 1,277 yards and 18 touchdowns, rushed for 299 more and even caught 11 balls for 174 yards and two scores.

Kelby Hampton, sr., La Salle College

A two-year returning starter, Hampton is an elite cover corner who attacks the ball and isn’t afraid to make a tackle. Hampton is also a special teams standout for La Salle College.

Caleb Hicks, sr., Selinsgrove

Hicks picked off six passes last fall and recovered a pair of fumbles. He finished with 56 total tackles from the cornerback position.

Nevan Hopkins, sr., Bishop McDevitt

Hopkins returned 60 percent of his interceptions for touchdowns last season, scoring three times on five picks. He also had six pass deflections and 30 total tackles.

Christopher Kohlbrenner, sr., Upper Dublin

A three-time Suburban One all-conference selection, Kohlbrenner had 57 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries last season. He also got plenty of run at receiver, hauling in 29 passes for 431 yards and four touchdowns.

Adam LaCarte, sr., Belle Vernon

LaCarte hit .431 in baseball last season, but the senior is even better on the football field. He was a Class 3A all-state defensive back last year after recording 75 tackles and four interceptions.

Saimire Locks, jr., Imhotep Charter

Locks is a physical cover corner who has excellent ball skills and length. His Division I offers include Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin.

Ryder Machado, sr., Delaware Valley

Machado rushed for 719 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior while also shining on the defensive side of the ball. He racked up 96 tackles, 11 pass breakups and six interceptions last fall. Machado has 11 interceptions during his high school career.

Ryan Petras, jr., Bethel Park

A Northwestern baseball commit, Petras is also a star football player for Bethel Park. He is an electric two-way player who scored 17 total touchdowns as a sophomore.

Braden Reed, jr., Pope John Paul II

Reed is an all-around playmaker who picked off five passes during his sophomore season. He also had 48 receptions for 831 yards and seven touchdowns on offense.

Khari Reid, sr., Neumann-Goretti

A hard-hitting defensive back, Reid committed to Stanford in June. He was voted Class 3A all-state after a sensational junior season for Neumann-Goretti.

Amil Way, jr., Trinity

Way demonstrated a nose for the ball during his junior season at Trinity. He intercepted eight passes and recorded 52 tackles to earn Class 2A all-state honors. In May, Way picked up his first Power 5 offer from West Virginia.

Kenneth Woseley, sr., Imhotep Charter

One of the top cover corners in all of Pennsylvania, Woseley will play college football for Penn State. He was a Class 5A all-state honoree last season and is a member of one of the best secondaries in Pennsylvania.