2014 Preseason All-American Projections: Safeties

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2014 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and this coming fall’s stars could be the headline players next May for the 2015 NFL Draft.

First-Team Safeties:

Landon Collins, Alabama

The Crimson Tide has been a talent factory for defensive backs for the NFL, and Collins is next in line. The Alabama defense got better in 2013 after Collins replaced the injured Vinnie Sunseri. Scouts told WalterFootball.com that in the second half of the year there were stretches where Collins was Alabama’s best defender, even better than C.J. Mosley or HaHa Clinton-Dix. Collins could be improved in 2014 having gained some experience.

Even though Collins was a starter for basically half the 2013 season, his totals are on a par with some other safety draft prospects who played the whole year. He recorded 70 tackles with four tackles for a loss, six passes broken up, one interception and two forced fumbles in 2013.

The 6-foot, 215-pound Collins was a good fit as a strong safety. He functioned very well in the tackle box. As a junior, don’t be surprised if he plays more deep coverage as Alabama will want an experienced and intelligent safety to take the place of Clinton-Dix as the deep center fielder. As a result, Collins could see a big jump in his interception totals. With the extra attention that Alabama generates, Collins is a heavy favorite to be an All-American.

Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State

The Michigan State defense was one of the best stop units in the nation in 2013. The Spartans had a superb secondary, and Drummond was the safety who really did a superb job of locking down the deep portion of the field.

Drummond started 2013 in impressive fashion. He made a highlight-reel interception versus Western Michigan and played well against South Florida and Notre Dame. Drummond also stepped up and was very active against Michigan and Stanford. The junior recorded 91 tackles, 10 passes broken up and four interceptions for the season. In 2012, Drummond started seven games while playing in 13. He totaled 53 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

Drummond is a smart and instinctive safety who covers a lot of ground in the back end. He already is well known around the nation for his play in 2013, so Drummond should be a heavy favorite to take home All-American honors.

Second-Team Safeties:

Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss

Prewitt was one of the best safeties in college football in 2013. Not only was the junior a physical presence in the Ole Miss defense, he took the ball away and caused a number of turnovers for the Rebels.

Prewitt had an excellent 2013 season and was a First-Team All-American selection by some media outlets. The SEC coaches made him a First-Team all-conference pick. For the year, Prewitt totaled 71 tackles with six interceptions, seven passes broken up and two forced fumbles. He had a big time presence for the Rebels. Prewitt has good size and demonstrated improved instincts and ball skills from his first season as a starter. In 2012, he had 80 tackles with two picks, four passes batted and two forced fumbles.

If Prewitt stays consistent with his junior season, he could be a First-Team All-American, but matching that interception total will be a challenge.

Su’a Cravens, USC

Cravens enrolled early in USC and used that time to win the starting strong safety position to replace T.J. McDonald. The freshman got better as 2013 went along. Cravens totaled 52 tackles with four interceptions, one pass batted and a forced fumble for the year. He was a Freshman All-American and was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention. Cravens (6-1, 225) is physical, strong and quick. He has upside to develop, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he becomes a star defender for the Trojans.

Third-Team Safeties:

Karl Joseph, West Virginia

In 2013, Joseph notched 68 tackles with four passes broken up and an interception. It was second-straight quality season that saw him produce for the Mountaineers. The West Virginia defense was terrible in 2012, but Joseph was one of the few bright spots. He led the defense with 104 tackles. The freshman also had two interceptions, three forced fumbles, six passes broken up, one sack and seven tackles for a loss.

As a junior, Joseph should produce his best season so far. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder is instinctive and a good tackler. If he gets more interceptions, he could be a First- or Second-Team All-American.

Nate Andrews, Florida State

Despite a veteran-laden defense, Andrews managed earned a spot and made an impact for the Seminoles. The freshman led Florida State with four interceptions, forced three fumbles, eight passes broken up and 35 tackles. Andrews also had 10 special teams tackles and was a core player on the Seminoles’ coverage units. With teammates moving onto to the NFL, Andrews is expected to be one of the leaders on Florida State’s defense. The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder should take on a more active role to replace Lamarcus Joyner.

Honorable Mentions: TCU’s Sam Carter, Duke’s Jeremy Cash, Syracuse’s Durell Eskridge, Clemson’s Jayron Kearse, Virginia’s Anthony Harris, Georgia’s Corey Moore, Eastern Washington’s Tevin McDonald, Stanford’s Jordan Richards, Connecticut’s Byron Jones, Nebraska’s Corey Cooper, Ohio State’s Doran Grant, Tennessee’s LaDarrell McNeil, Virginia Tech’s Kyshoen Jarrett and Florida State’s Tyler Hunter.

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