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The SEC always produces top tier safeties like Eric Berry, Laron Landry and Mark Barron, and a slew of talented players will go on to play several years in the NFL.
The conference had the known commodities such as HaHa Clinton-Dix, Kenny Ladler and Nickoe Whitley, but emerging stars such as Cody Prewitt and Landon Collins made their presence known. Safety was one of the deepest position groups in the SEC for 2013.
Here are the top 10 safeties of this past season:
1. Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss (JR)
Cody Prewitt had a huge season for the Rebels’ defense, and he finished second on the team with 71 tackles and recorded 4.5 tackles for loss. But Prewitt is a huge hitter, and he led the SEC with six interceptions, including recording two forced fumbles. He’s becoming one of the most feared players in the league, and he’s returning in 2014.
2. HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama (JR)
3. Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt (SR)
4. Landon Collins, Alabama (SO)
HaHa Clinton-Dix entered the season as the SEC’s top safety, and he’ll likely be a first-round pick. Clinton-Dix is one of the best tacklers in college football. HCD recorded 52 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions…Kenny Ladler is one of the most underrated players in the SEC. Ladler led the Commodores’ defense with 91 tackles, and he recorded five INTs and nine passes defended. Like Prewitt, Ladler brings the hammer, and it will be fun seeing him play on Sundays…Landon Collins combined with Clinton-Dix to form the best tackling safety duo in college football. Collins played in place of Vinnie Sunseri, who suffered a season-ending knee injury, and he quickly became one of the top defensive backs in the SEC. Collins finished with 70 tackles, including four for loss, two forced fumbles and two interceptions, including one pick-six against Tennessee.
5. Nickoe Whitley, Mississippi State (SR)
6. Craig Loston, LSU (SR)
Nickoe Whitley was the primary heart and soul of Mississippi State’s defense, and he’s been a staple in the secondary for the last four years. And like Prewitt and Ladler, Whitley had a nose for the football this season. He recorded 55 tackles, two forced fumbles and five interceptions. And he played on a torn ACL…Craig Loston was one of the few veterans on LSU’s defense, and he’s struggled with injuries throughout his career. Loston missed three games this season, but he still finished with 57 tackles, four tackles for loss and three interceptions. The Tigers will miss his leadership in 2014, although he probably never reached his full potential during his career.
7. Robenson Therezie, Auburn (JR)
Robenson Therezie isn’t a true safety, and he plays Ellis Johnson’s Star position, which is a hybrid safety/linebacker. But he was such a clutch player for Auburn during their championship quest, and he finished with 55 tackles and three tackles for loss, but his four interceptions were crucial to helping Auburn win games. He made a crucial pick-six against Ole Miss, and another critical interception against Washington State in the end zone during the opener.
8. Braylon Webb, Missouri (JR)
9. Alan Turner, Arkansas (JR)
10. Brian Randolph, Tennessee (JR)
Braylon Webb had a huge season for the Tigers, and he finished second on the team with 89 tackles. Webb also picked off three passes and recorded seven pass breakups. Webb will lead an inexperienced Mizzou secondary in 2014…Arkansas’ season may have been forgettable overall, but one player who stood out in the secondary was safety Alan Turner. Turner led the Hogs’ defense with 97 tackles, and he recorded two interceptions and five pass breakups. Yes, Arkansas’ secondary must improve drastically, but another year of Turner, and he’ll only get better. I really like his game…Brian Randolph returned from his knee injury this season in style. He made 75 tackles and seven passes defended and forced one fumble, but he led the Vols with four interceptions. Randolph will be a key player in the Butch Jones era, as he approaches his junior season in 2014, and I think he’s a fantastic player.
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