Ranking the SEC's top 10 safeties in the BCS era
Related BCS Ranking:
- Ranking the top 10 SEC Quarterbacks in the BCS era
- Ranking the top 10 SEC Running Backs in the BCS era
- Ranking the top 10 SEC Wide Receivers in the BCS era
- Ranking the top 10 SEC Offensive Linemen in the BCS era
- Ranking the top 10 SEC Defensive Linemen in the BCS era
- Ranking the top 10 SEC Linebackers in the BCS era
- Ranking the top 10 SEC Cornerbacks in the BCS era
- Ranking the top 10 SEC Safeties in the BCS era
Our final position is safety. Much like the cornerbacks, the SEC’s safeties during the BCS era are among some of the most talented in college football. Although the BCS era is over, the conference is still witnessing some great performances from today’s safeties like Cody Prewitt, Landon Collins.
Here are the top 10 SEC safeties in the BCS era:
1. Eric Berry, Tennessee (2007-09)
The lowdown: Arguably one of Tennessee’s greatest players ever, Eric Berry destroyed SEC offenses from 2007-09 seemingly by himself. He combined for 12 interceptions in his first two seasons and tallied 86 tackles as a freshman, which led all SEC freshmen. At first, Berry was thought of as a corner, but he eventually developed into a safety. Following his SEC Defensive Freshman of the Year award, he earned SEC DPOY honors as a sophomore and finished his career as an unanimous All-American selection and a Thorpe Award winner. His blend of size, speed and strength are virtually unmatched at the safety position.
2. LaRon Landry, LSU (2003-06)
The lowdown: LSU might as well be “DB U” with the defensive backs that they have produced over the years. LaRon Landry made a strong case from 2003-06 that he was the best of the bunch. He started in all four of his years at LSU. Much like Berry at Tennessee, Landry made an immediate impact, recording 80 tackles as a true freshman and helped lead LSU to the 2003 BCS Championship. He was awarded with Freshman All-American honors. Landry continued his dominance in the following three seasons. By the end of his career, Landry ranked third all-time in school history with 12 interceptions and second all-time with 40 pass breakups.
3. Mark Barron, Alabama (2008-11)
The lowdown: Barron could do it all as a safety. At 6-foot-2, 215-pounds, Barron was a big, intimidating presence in the secondary. He could hit receivers hard, but he was also excellent in coverage. He led the SEC as a sophomore with seven interceptions, eventually finishing his career with 12 total interceptions. He was a two-time first-team All-American and a three-time All-SEC performer. He was a key part of the Alabama defenses for the 2009 and 2011 national championship runs.
4. Reggie Nelson, Florida (2005-06)
The lowdown: Nicknamed the ‘Eraser’, Reggie Nelson erased Florida’s problems in the secondary. In just two seasons in The Swamp, Reggie Nelson established himself as one of the best safeties to put on the Orange and Blue. He transferred from JUCO and started for the Gators as a sophomore. He blew up in his junior season when he seemingly was all over the field. His 51 tackles, six interceptions and five pass breakups earned him All-SEC and All-American honors. His play in the secondary significantly contributed to the Gators’ 2006 national championship.
5. Deon Grant, Tennessee (1997-99)
The lowdown: In a play I’m sure Tennessee fans will never forget, Deon Grant made one of the biggest plays in school history with a one-handed interception against Florida in 1998. The interception led to a victory for the Vols and an eventual national championship that same year. Grant was a ball hawk, leading the NCAA with nine interceptions in 1999, garnering him first-team All-American honors.
6. Eric Reid, LSU (2010-12)
The lowdown: Reid still stands as one of the SEC’s most athletic defensive backs to come through the BCS era. Reid was the first LSU safety to be named as an All-American since Craig Steltz in 2007. His 91 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles helped lead LSU’s 2012 defense, which was considered the best in college football that season.
7. Craig Steltz, LSU (2004-07)
The lowdown: Before finally starting in 2007, Steltz was just your average safety. But his senior season was a different story. The LSU defensive back led the team with 201 tackles and had a conference-leading six interceptions. He was rewarded with first-team All-SEC and All-American selections. Steltz was also a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.
8. Thomas Davis, Georgia (2002-04)
The lowdown: Davis’ NFL career is primarily at outside linebacker, but he starred in college as a safety for the Georgia Bulldogs. Davis earned second-team All-SEC honors after his sophomore season, but he became a first-team All-American in 2004. He recorded 272 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. Davis was most well-known for his ability to rush off the end in addition to delivering crushing blows to opposing wide receivers.
9. Rashad Johnson, Alabama (2005-08)
The lowdown: Johnson made his mark at Bama initially with the special teams unit before becoming the Crimson Tide’s starting safety. He was one of only eight Alabama players in school history to be named team captain twice and he capped off his career at Alabama with an All-American season (89 tackles, five interceptions, two defensive touchdowns). What’s the best part of Johnson’s story? He was a former walk-on.
10. Ko Simpson, South Carolina (2004-05)
The lowdown: Two full seasons was all Simpson needed to make an impact for the Gamecocks. As a freshman, he started all season at free safety and finished second on the team with 61 tackles, along with three fumble recoveries and six interceptions. As a sophomore, Simpson continued to do much of the same for South Carolina. He finished with 103 tackles and made big plays for the Gamecocks all season. Simpson was a two-time All-American.