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Dynamic duos: Ranking CFB's top 10 defensive back tandems

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Associated Press
Virginia Tech's Brandon Facyson and CB Kendall Fuller combine to form college football's top DB tandem.

College Football 24/7's look at the game's top tandems concludes with a look at the 10 best defensive back duos entering the 2015 season, taking into account both college production and pro potential.

(As an added bonus, we'll also list the best duos in each league if that league is not represented in our top 10.)

10. Penn State: FS Marcus Allen and SS Jordan Lucas

The skinny: Lucas is following in the footsteps of former Nittany Lions safety Adrian Amos, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Chicago Bears in May. Amos was a starting corner before moving to safety for his senior season, and Lucas (6-foot-0, 199 pounds) is making the same move and will replace Amos in the starting lineup. Lucas was a two-year starter at corner who had three picks and 23 pass breakups in that span; his coverage ability will be a big plus at safety. Allen (6-2, 206) was a part-time starter as a true freshman last season and looks to have an extremely high ceiling. His strong play last fall was somewhat surprising, considering he had missed all but three games of his senior season of high school in Maryland because of torn ligaments in his right ankle. He is strong in run support and also possesses good ball skills. His godfather is Pro Football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin.

15 for '15:
CFB 24/7 counts down the best of what college football has to offer in varying categories for 2015.

9. Minnesota: CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun and CB Eric Murray

The skinny: Boddy-Calhoun (5-11, 188) and Murray (6-0, 196) are going into their second season as a starting tandem. Boddy-Calhoun is a former JC transfer who will be a two-year starter and Murray is going to be a three-year starter. They combined for six interceptions and 16 pass breakups last season, and both are solid in run support as well. Boddy-Calhoun also starred in basketball and track in high school in Delaware and plays bigger than his listed height.

8. LSU: S Jamal Adams and S Jalen Mills

The skinny: Adams (6-0, 206) was an important part of LSU's secondary rotation as a true freshman last season; he saw extensive time, including two starts, and finished with 66 tackles. Adams -- who was a consensus national top-40 prospect in the 2014 recruiting class -- is a big hitter who will be expected to do more in coverage this fall. Mills (6-0, 194), like Adams a Texas native, will be a rare four-year starter for the Tigers; he started at cornerback in his first two seasons before moving to safety last fall. His versatility and coverage skills are a big selling point. Mills, who toyed with the idea of turning pro after last season has had legal issues, and must prove to NFL scouts that he can stay on the straight and narrow.

7. Ole Miss: S Tony Conner and SS Trae Elston

The skinny: This is the biggest-hitting defensive back duo in the nation. Conner (6-0, 215), a junior, spends a lot of time as an in-the-box safety in Mississippi's 4-2-5 defense and is a big-time presence against the run. Conner, who has been a starter since he set foot on campus, needs to show more in coverage this season; he has 14 tackles for loss and eight pass breakups in two seasons. Elston (5-11, 195), a senior, is going to be a four-year starter for the Rebels, and as with Conner, he lays the lumber but is lacking in coverage ability. He had his first career interception last season. Two of Elston's former teammates at Oxford (Ala.) High were drafted in May: Memphis CB Bobby McCain and LSU LB Kwon Alexander.

6. Kansas State: CB Danzel McDaniel and SS Dante Barnett

The skinny: As with numerous K-State players, McDaniel (6-1, 205) is a former junior college standout. He was a touted JC cornerback and stepped right into K-State's starting lineup last season. He is strong in run support, and while he lacks elite speed, he is a good athlete and has excellent instincts. Barnett (6-1, 186), a senior, is heading into his third season as a starter. He had three picks and 11 pass breakups to go along with 77 tackles last season. He is physical and can cover a lot of ground. Barnett will be one of three senior starters in the Wildcats' secondary. He was a teammate of Seattle Seahawks rookie WR Tyler Lockett in high school in Tulsa.

5. USC: CB Adoree Jackson and CB Kevon Seymour

The skinny: Jackson (5-11, 185), who also plays wide receiver and is an excellent return man, was one of the best true freshmen in the nation last season. He has excellent speed and is a legit cover corner; despite his youth last season, he played with a discernible swagger, and he should be the best corner in the Pac-12 this season. Seymour (6-0, 185) will be a three-year starter. He has 19 pass breakups in the past two seasons and had a strong spring.

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4. Ohio State: CB Eli Apple and S Vonn Bell

The skinny: After redshirting as a true freshman in 2013, Apple (6-1, 200) started for the Buckeyes last season, finishing with three interceptions and 10 pass breakups; he also was solid in run support. While Apple lacks top-end speed, he is quick and instinctual and has good size. Bell (5-11, 205) played a lot as a true freshman reserve in 2013, then emerged as a key starter last season. He led the Buckeyes with six interceptions and was second in 92 tackles, numbers that show off his vast skill set. Bell, who was a national top-30 prospect out of high school in the Atlanta area, has a high football IQ and a knack for coming up with a big play at the right time.

3. Florida: CB Vernon Hargreaves III and S Keanu Neal

The skinny: Hargreaves (5-11, 198), a junior, is heading into his third season as a starter and should be the nation's top corner this fall. He is a legit cover corner, with the necessary speed, athleticism and instincts. He runs in the low 4.4s in the 40 and has a vertical jump of 41 inches. Hargreaves also is solid in run support, but it's his coverage ability that is going to make him a lot of money at the next level. He has six picks and 24 pass breakups in two seasons. Neal (6-1, 209), also a junior, is a ferocious hitter who had three interceptions last season. He was a key reserve as a true freshman in 2013 before becoming a starter last season. His work in run support stands out, but he is underrated in coverage.

2. FSU: CB Jalen Ramsey and S Nate Andrews

The skinny: Ramsey (6-1, 201), a junior, is moving back to cornerback from safety this season. He started the 2013 season opener at corner, becoming the first true freshman corner at FSU to start a season-opener since -- wait for it -- Deion Sanders in 1985. Because of injuries, he moved to safety four games into the '13 season and he remained at safety last season. He has started all 28 games in his FSU career and should vie for All-American honors at corner this fall. He has excellent speed, is one of the best college long jumpers in the nation and possesses impressive size. Ramsey was a consensus national top-40 recruit. Andrews (5-11, 205) played a lot as a true freshman reserve in 2013, leading the Seminoles with four picks. He became a starter last fall and had a strong season. He was second on the team with 93 tackles and added three interceptions, five pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. He is excellent in run support despite not playing much defense at all until he got to college; he mainly was a quarterback and receiver in high school in Alabama.

1. Virginia Tech: CB Brandon Facyson and CB Kendall Fuller

The skinny: Putting this duo No. 1 is a gamble of sorts because Facyson (6-2, 184) missed all but three games last season with a shin injury; he then suffered a broken leg in December. But if he is healthy, he and Fuller give the Hokies two shutdown corners. Facyson has excellent size, is physical and can run; he started for the Hokies as a true freshman in 2013 and had five interceptions and eight pass breakups. Fuller (6-0, 197) is entering his third season as a starter, and he is in the discussion with Florida's Hargreaves and FSU's Ramsey when talking about the nation's best corner. Fuller has eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups in two seasons, and he also has shown well against the run. He has nice size, good speed and a high football IQ, not surprising considering three brothers have played in the NFL.

Best in other leagues:

AAC: Houston, CB William Jackson and SS Adrian McDonald
Conference USA: Louisiana Tech, S Kentrell Brice and S Xavier Woods
Mid-American: Northern Illinois, CB Paris Logan and SS Marlon Moore
Mountain West: Boise State, CB Donte Deayon and S Darian Thompson
Sun Belt: Louisiana-Monroe, CB Trey Caldwell and S Mitch Lane

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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