2009 CFN All-Americans & Top Players - Safety
USC S Taylor Mays
USC S Taylor Mays
Posted Aug 11, 2009

CFN 2009 All-Americans and Top 25 Players - Safeties

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- Safeties | Kickers & Punters | Kick & Punt Returners

2009 1st Team All-Americans

SS Eric Berry, Jr. Tennessee
The 5-11, 203-pounder has done everything for the defense as a last line of defense making 86 tackles two years ago and finishing third on the team with 72 stops last season. A pass rusher, he also made three sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. But for all the big hits and all he does as the sheriff of the secondary, he's at his best when the ball is in the air tying for the nation's lead with seven interceptions with 13 broken up passes. Deadly when he gets the ball in his hands, he holds the SEC record for a season with 265 interception return yards. A pure playmaker at strong safety, he should do even more to help out this year in the Tampa 2 system.

FS Taylor Mays, Sr., USC
The USC D revolves around the 6-3, 235-pound Mays, a fourth-year starter and two-time All-American. His physical resume reads like a fable, blending the size and pop of a linebacker with the speed and agility of a cornerback. He's able to do things on the field that no free safety in recent memory can even approach. Last year's 53 tackles and nine pass breakups don't do justice to the number of times he obliterated and intimidated opposing receivers.

25 Best Safeties

1. Taylor Mays, Sr. USC
2. Eric Berry, Jr. Tennessee
3. Morgan Burnett, Jr. Georgia Tech
4. Reshad Jones, Jr. Georgia
5. Jordan Lake, Sr. Baylor
6. Barry Church, Sr. Toledo
7. Darrell Stuckey, Sr. Kansas
8. Kyle McCarthy, Sr. Notre Dame
9. Antonio Baker, Sr. Louisiana Tech
10. Van Eskridge, Sr. East Carolina
11. Ahmad Black, Jr. Florida
12. Josh Pinkard, Sr. USC
13. Nate Allen, Sr. South Florida
14. Deunta Williams, Jr. North Carolina
15. Earl Thomas, Soph. Texas
16. Robert Vaughn, Sr. Connecticut
17. Davonte Shannon, Jr. Buffalo
18. Harrison Smith, Jr. Notre Dame
19. Andrew Sendejo, Sr. Rice
20. Joe Dale, Sr. Utah
21. Shiloh Keo, Jr. Idaho
22. Duke Ihenacho, Jr. San Jose State
23. Jeron Johnson, Jr. Boise State
24. Chris Thomas, Sr. Air Force
25. Harry Coleman, Sr. LSU
2009 2nd Team

S Morgan Burnett, Jr., Georgia Tech
The 6-1, 198-pound junior rover is ready for the next level. After showing glimpses of greatness in his debut, he really took off last year, making a team-high 93 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and seven interceptions. A blazing fast athlete, with outstanding field vision and ball skills, he’s an All-America defender, who’ll do a little of everything for Tech.

SS Reshad Jones, Jr., Georgia
There are some holes to fill in the secondary, but the return of Jones will pick up the slack until the new starters are ready to roll. The 6-2, 214-pounder started 12 games at free safety last season making 76 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and a team-leading five interceptions, but now he'll move to strong safety where he'll be an intimidating force and more of a run stopper. Considered by many services to be the No. 1 safety recruit in America in 2006, he has the full range of skills to grow into a top NFL player with versatility, speed, and big-time tackling ability.

Honorable Mention

FS Antonio Baker, Sr., Louisiana Tech
Baker's a tackling machine who led the team two years ago with 118 stops and last year with 115 tackles, to go along with three interceptions, three forced fumbles, and 4.5 tackles for loss from his free safety position. A consistent tackler who doesn't miss a stop, the 5-11, 208-pound two-time first-team All-WAC selection gets all over the field like a fourth linebacker against the run. However, he has to do more when the ball is in the air. While he can't do it all alone, he has to make even more big plays and has to provide more help to the new corners.

SS Barry Church, Sr., Toledo
The Rockets will now use three linebackers, but the No. 3 defender will be an awful lot like an strong safety. That's where Church comes in. One of the nation's best strong safeties, he'll play a Star linebacker role where he'll do a little bit of everything. The one-time star recruit has lived up to the hype, and then some, and he'll do whatever the team needs to win. He was second on the team last season with 93 tackles with an interception, six broken up passes, and 5.5 tackles for loss, and now he'll get more room to roam. At 6-2 and 219 pounds, he has good size, next-level range, and the potential to have a monster season, even by his high standards, with even more room to roam and make plays.

FS Van Eskridge, Sr., East Carolina
The headliner of the good ECU pass defense will once again be the 6-0, 200-pound senior, last year's defensive MVP and All-Conference USA first teamer. A complete player at the position, he'll deliver the payload like a linebacker and cover receivers with the deft of a corner. A genuine playmaker, with a penchant for quickly diagnosing plays, he's started the last three seasons, making 97 tackles and picking off four passes last fall.

FS Jordan Lake, Sr. Baylor
Lake is a huge-hitting intimidating force who might be the Big 12's best safety. The 6-1, 210-pound free safety made 120 tackles in 2006 and 97 in 2008 with 18 broken up passes and five interceptions over the last two years. He has the range and he has the sure-thing tackling ability, but he has to make sure he doesn't knock himself out of the lineup. A shoulder problem didn't turn out to be a problem last year, but he suffered a broken collarbone three years ago. While he's not a speedster, he's always around the ball and doesn't miss stops with a team-leading 66 solo tackles.

SS Kyle McCarthy, Sr., Notre Dame
McCarthy stepped in for Tom Zbikowski at strong safety and turned into a whale of a defender. The 6-1, 203-pounder led the team with 110 tackles, a team-record for defensive backs, with two interceptions and 3.5 tackles for loss, and while he didn't do enough to come up with big plays when the ball was in the air, he didn't miss any stops against the run and he was all over the field. While he's not the tone-setting hitter that Zbikowski was, he's a steadier player.

SS Darrell Stuckey, Sr. Kansas
With all the shuffling in the secondary last year, there was one constant. Stuckey started every game at strong safety and finished second on the team with 98 tackles with five interceptions, seven broken up passes, and 4.5 tackles for loss. The First Team All-Big 12 performer is a 6-1, 205-pound big hitter who started to do more against the pass last year to go along with his ability to stuff everything in run support. With the speed to play free safety if needed, to go along with his hitting ability, he's one of the team's most valuable players. The defense needs his leadership and his production.