Who are the best safeties coming into the 2019 college football season? Here are the 2019 CFN All-America safeties and 30 top players.
2019 CFN Preseason All-America Safeties
Who are the best safeties coming into the 2019 college football season? Based on projections for this year – and not necessarily based on pro talent and potential ….
Honorable Mention All-American Safeties
30. Marcelino Ball, Jr. Indiana
A big 6-0, 219-pound thumper, he’s a good, sound tackler who came back from missing most of the 2017 season hurt to make 59 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss. He hits like a linebacker, but he can cover, too.
– 2019 Indiana Preview
29. Ashtyn Davis, Jr. Cal
Yet another amazing part of the great Cal defense, the 6-1, 195-pounder is built like a big corner, but he can hit. The all-star registered 56 tackles and upped his game in coverage, picking off four passes with nine broken up passes.
– 2019 Cal Preview
28. JuJu Hughes, Sr. Fresno State
A baller and tone-setter for the strong Fresno State defense over the last few seasons, he’s a feisty 5-11, 188-pounder with 159 tackles and 20 broken up passes over the last two years. He also picked off four passes, but he didn’t get behind the line as much as he did as a sophomore. Whatever … he can do it all.
– 2019 Fresno State Preview
27. Khairi Muhammad, Sr. North Texas
The Mean Green offense might get the headlines, but the defense has some players, too. The 5-11, 188-pound veteran didn’t quite match the 94-tackle sophomore season against the run, but he came up with 67 stops and was a much, much bigger factor when the ball was in the air, picking off four passes and breaking up nine.
– 2019 Marshall Preview
26. Hamsah Nasirildeen, Jr. Florida State
The 6-4, 215-pounder came out and played well in the rotation as a freshman, and then he turned it on last season with a team-high 91 tackles with a pick. The hybrid safety/linebacker in the FSU system hasn’t done a whole lot against the pass yet, and he’s only been a part-time starter so far, but both of those things are about to change.
– 2019 Florida State Preview
25. Jarius Morehead, Sr. NC State
One of the best hitting safeties in the country, the 6-1, 220-pound strong safety is coming off a whale of a junior season, making 81 tackles with three picks – taking one for a score – after making 80 stops as a sophomore. He’s a lock for All-ACC honors.
– 2019 NC State Preview
24. Daniel Thomas, Sr. Auburn
He’s a rock-solid dependable defender who has gotten better and better over each season. The 5-11, 209-pound veteran can hit – coming off a 74-tackle season – and he’s nice in coverage with five career picks and 12 broken up passes.
– 2019 Auburn Preview
23. Nigel Warrior, Sr. Tennessee
The 6-0, 191-pound excellent recruit for the program is one of the team’s key parts of the rebuild. He has done his part over the last few seasons, following up an 83-tackle season with 64 tackles last year. However, he has to do more against the pass with just one career interception and five broken up passes.
– 2019 Tennessee Preview
22. Reed Blankenship, Jr. Middle Tennessee
One of the best defensive players in Conference USA over the last two seasons, the 6-1, 196-pound veteran has 175 career tackles with 15 tackles for loss, six picks and 13 broken up passes, becoming more of a instinctive playmaker against the pass last season.
– 2019 Middle Tennessee Preview
21. Greg Eisworth, Jr. Iowa State
Now that’s what you want and hope for out of a JUCO transfer. The 6-0, 205-pounder stepped in and made an instant impact with 87 tackles, a sack, four tackles for loss with an interception and six broken up passes. He’s a tough tackler who just kept on showing up around the ball.
– 2019 Iowa State Preview
20. Brandon Jones, Sr. Texas
He might not be the team’s most talented defensive back, but the 6-0, 210-pound experienced leader has been a mainstay of the Longhorn defense. He was always a good tackler – with 131 over the last two years – but last season he started to do more than thump with his first two interceptions.
– 2019 Texas Preview
19. Ky’el Hemby, Jr. Southern Miss
The Southern Miss defense was special last season helped by the addition of a key JUCO transfer. The 6-1, 195-pound Hemby stepped right into a job and attacked everything, coming up with 56 tackles with six interceptions. He’s got great range and can pop.
– 2019 Southern Miss Preview
18. Alvin Davis, Sr. Akron
Forget that he’s only 5-9 and 175 pounds – he comes into the season as one of the nation’s most active and productive defenders over the last three seasons. He’ll get in on every tackle – making 241 so far in his career – and last season he came up with four interceptions with six broken up passes, taking two of his picks for touchdowns in the shocking upset over Northwestern.
– 2019 Akron Preview
17. Tariq Thompson, Jr. San Diego State
Very good, very steady, and very versatile, the 6-0, 200-pound all-star has been among the top players on a top defense from the start of his career, coming up with 123 tackles with eight tackles for loss, seven interceptions and 19 broken up passes in his first two seasons.
– 2019 San Diego State Preview
16. Javon Hagan, Sr. Ohio
A nice-sized 6-1, 210-pound veteran, he’s the leader and star of an Ohio defense that should be among the MAC’s best. A fantastic tackler, he has 216 over his first three seasons with six pick and 19 broken up passes, and he can bring the thump with eight forces fumbles.
– 2019 Ohio Preview
15. David Dowell, Sr. Michigan State
One of the Big Ten’s best defensive backs over the last two seasons, the 6-1, 205-pound veteran has 111 tackles after getting his feet wet as a freshman with seven picks. He can make plays on the ball, but he’s at his best in run support.
– 2019 Michigan State Preview
14. Alohi Gilman, Sr. Notre Dame
A nice pro prospect with terrific speed and range, he started out his career as a 76-tackle star for Navy, transferred, and last year became a key part of the Irish defense. He’s not all that huge at 5-11 and 202 pounds, but he got in on everything against the run making 94 tackles with five broken up passes.
– 2019 Notre Dame Preview
13. Josh Metellus, Sr. Michigan
One of the returning stars on a defense that’s going to be great, but is missing some of last season’s tone-setters, the 6-0, 204-pound senior has been an all-star over the last two seasons with 98 tackles. Last year, he started to become more dangerous against the pass with his first interceptions of his career, coming up with three.
– 2019 Michigan Preview
12. Shyheim Carter, Sr. Alabama
It took a few years for the star prospect to get his chance on a regular basis to show what he could do, and then he came up with a strong junior campaign with 44 tackles, two picks and 12 broken up passes. The 6-0, 191-pounder is the leader and steadying force now for yet another amazing Bama secondary.
– 2019 Alabama Preview
11. Antoine Winfield, Soph. Minnesota
Can the son of the former NFL great with the same name stay healthy? That’s all that’s missing after missing big chunks of the last two seasons including most of last year with a foot injury. When he’s right the 5-10, 205-pounder is an elite difference-maker who’s good in run suppose and great in pass coverage.
– 2019 Minnesota Preview
10. Jalen Elliott, Sr. Notre Dame
Elliott is exactly what you want in a strong safety. He’s got tremendous speed in a compact 6-1, 210-pound frame, rising up as a sophomore making 43 tackles, and following it up with a 67-tackle season. He’s doing more to make big plays, too, with four picks, but his worth is against the run.
– 2019 Notre Dame Preview
9. Richard LeCounte, Jr. Georgia
The superstar prospect rose up and rocked in his second season in the secondary, coming up with a team-leading 74 tackles. He only picked off one pass – it was a big one in the SEC Championship – but he has the range and speed to do far more in coverage. Now that he’s got the year of starting experience, look out.
– 2019 Georgia Preview
8. Xavier McKinney, Jr. Alabama
He somehow missed out on All-SEC honors last season – that’s not going to happen this time around. The 6-1, 200-pound junior had to step into the spotlight as a sophomore, and he came through with 73 tackles, two interceptions and 12 broken up passes. Unlike most of the nation’s best safeties, he can get into the backfield with regularity, coming up with three sacks and six tackles for loss.
– 2019 Alabama Preview
7. Antoine Brooks, Sr. Maryland
One of the nation’s best all-around defensive backs, the 5-11, 210-pounder does a little of everything right. Not only does he bring the hitting ability with 139 stops over the last two years, but he came up 19 tackles for loss as a dangerous playmaker in the backfield. He can pick off passes, too – he has three – but he’s at his best against the run.
– 2019 Maryland Preview