2012 College Football Player Ratings: Top 5 Safeties: Safeties in college football are forced to wear a lot of hats. Depending on the defensive scheme and particular formation, a safety could be doing everything from dropping back in coverage to blitzing. Playing the safety position requires players to have the speed to cover wide receivers, the power to take down running backs, and the knowledge to play in a variety of packages. Some of the best all-around athletes in the college game can be found at the safety, and here is a look at the best of the best for the upcoming season.
2012 College Football Player Ratings: Top 5 Safeties
1. T.J. McDonald, USC Trojans
He is rock solid in all facets of the game and is the leader of the USC defense. McDonald is a smart, savvy player with the size and skills to back it up. Whether he is crashing the line to help stop the run, blitzing from the edge or helping in pass coverage, McDonald is the type of player that is in the right place at the right time. More importantly, he is a field general and makes sure his teammates are where they need to be, as well. McDonald’s main reason for returning to school was to win a national title, and he will be a motivated player this season.
2. Eric Reid, LSU Tigers
Despite playing all year with an injured shoulder, Reid made plenty of big plays while patrolling the secondary from his free safety spot. He finished the year with 47 tackles and four interceptions, including ripping the ball away from Alabama tight end Michael Williams in the end zone in LSU’s regular season victory over the Crimson Tide. Coming out of high school, many thought read might have to move to linebacker because of his physical style of play. Instead, he has developed his coverage skills while continuing to punish running backs with his hard hits.
3. Bacarri Rambo, Georgia Bulldogs
Rambo is more of a ball hawk than a heavy hitter, but he holds his own as a tackler and can cover as well as any player at the position. His eight interceptions last season led all safeties and were the second most by any player in the country. Rambo will be suspended for the first four games of the 2012-13 season for a failed drug test, but he will no doubt make up for lost time when he gets back on the field with his big play ability. When opponents throw down the middle against the Bulldogs, there is a good chance Rambo will end up taking it the other way.
4. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas Longhorns
Vaccaro introduced himself to a national audience when he jumping over a potential blocker on his way to recording a sack in the Holiday Bowl. He is the ultimate combination of speed and power at the safety position, and any receiver coming over the middle against the Texas defense usually gets a visit from Vaccaro. He is also a productive tackler against the run, notching more than 70 last season. He can change the game with his big plays, and most NFL scouts have Vaccaro as one of the top two prospects at the safety position at the next level.
5. John Boyett, Oregon Ducks
If Boyett gets his hands on a ball carrier, there is a 99 percent chance they are going down. He is a sure-handed, reliable tackler, and last season, he notched an amazing 108 tackles from his safety spot. More importantly, Boyett plays his best in big games. He tallied 14 tackles in the season opener against LSU, 11 in an upset of Stanford and 17 in the Ducks’ Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. In Oregon’s speed-oriented defense, Boyett is like an extra linebacker controlling the secondary.
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