Sahuaro’s Omar Lloyd (11) considers himself a defensive player first, but he expects a big year at receiver, too.

Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star 2013

Through the start of the high school football season Aug.  22, the Star is counting down Southern Arizona’s top football players. Our list continues today with Sahuaro’s Omar Lloyd, who is aiming to be the top defensive back in the state this fall.

Omar Lloyd

The rundown: Omar Lloyd, CB/WR, 6-1, 175, Sahuaro, senior

Who he is: An astute defensive back with enough size and athleticism to cause nightmares for opposing offenses. After earning a spot on varsity last season, the coaches penciled Lloyd in at cornerback, a position he had never played. Eleven games later, Lloyd was one of the top defensive backs in Southern Arizona. For his first in-game assignment, the lengthy and sure-footed corner was matched up against UA commit Demetrius Flannigan, then at Tucson High. Although Flannigan’s specialty also resides on defense, Lloyd still held the elite athlete to two receptions for 24 yards. From there, the inexperienced corner improved every week, coach Scott McKee said, slowly becoming a reactionary player rather than a thinker. Lloyd’s inquisitive nature created a film buff, as he studied not only opponent tapes but also YouTube videos and NFL game replays. He specifically focused on the footwork of NFC West stars Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Lloyd, fellow All-Southern Arizona player Cole Sterns and the rest of the Sahuaro secondary held opponents to 150.3 passing yards on average in the eight local games the Cougars played last season. Now the senior has the role of shutdown corner all to himself, but Lloyd said he’s ready — he’s aiming to be the top corner in the state. He received an offer from FCS South Dakota State but has seen strong interest from UTEP, San Diego State and NAU.

Proof he’s good: He’s a complete player. Lloyd didn’t shy away from the physicality of his new position — in fact, he embraced it. Along with his three interceptions, Lloyd also caused two fumbles and had the second-most tackles (27) of any defensive back on Sahuaro last season. Lloyd described himself as a sure tackler, rather than a big hitter, and his 20 solo tackles, third-best on the team, can attest to that. Additionally, Lloyd said he’d rather hit than be hit — one of the reasons why he considers himself a defensive player first — but he’s ready to become an impact player at wide receiver as well. Lloyd had three catches for 55 yards in Week 2 against Sabino but hauled in only three more balls the rest of the way. Still, McKee wants to give Lloyd the ball frequently this season to take advantage of his explosive nature, especially now that Lloyd is more comfortable at the position. A right foot fracture in the middle of summer slowed down his training and growth on offense, but Lloyd still put on five pounds of muscle.

He said it: “He’s a good athlete, a highly intelligent, high-IQ kid, and he’s got great range. He’s got good length and good initial burst. Those are things he does well, and he has a lot of natural tools.” — McKee