In the wake of the Big 12 Conference's recent offensive explosion, few positions have become as important for defenses to keep up than safety. Not only are most responsible for making coverage adjustments on the fly, they also serve as the last line of defense in preventing the conference's high-powered offenses from making big time plays. Today, Huskeronline.com ranks the Big 12's safeties as we think they stand heading into fall camp.
As far as leadership, experience and instincts go, there's not a better safety in the Big 12 than Baylor's Jordan Lake. Add in the fact that he's also one of the most physically talented players at the positions as well, there's really no argument. A two-time all-conference selection, Lake finished second on team with 97 tackles (team-high 66 solo stops), second with three interceptions and seven pass breakups and added two forced fumbles.
2. Darrell Stuckey, Kansas, 6-1, 205, Sr.
Kansas's lone first-team all-Big 12 selection last season, Darrell Stuckey has been a fixture in the Jayhawks' secondary and will enter his fourth straight year as a starter this season. Stuckey ranked third in the conference with five interceptions last year to go along with 98 tackles, which marked the most by a KU defensive back since 2003. He's the clear leader of Kansas's defense, and will play a key role in the Jayhawks' quest for a Big 12 North title.
3. Earl Thomas, Texas, 5-10, 195, So.
After just one full season at safety, Texas's Earl Thomas has already shown the potential to be one of the Big 12's best by the time he's done. Thomas, who was named first-team Freshman All-America last year, ranked second on the team with 63 tackles and an impressive 17 pass breakups, the most ever by a Longhorn freshman. With 13 starts at strong safety now under his belt, there's no reason Thomas won't be significantly better this season.
4. Trent Hunter, Texas A&M, 5-10, 185, So.
Another budding sophomore star, Texas A&M's Trent Hunter's potential is right on par with Thomas's, as he also was named first-team Freshman All-America. He ranked third on the team with 63 tackles to go along with three interceptions. To give you an idea of Hunter's immediate impact, he recorded 17 tackles in his first collegiate start last year against Army.
5. Quinton Carter, Oklahoma, 6-1, 193, Jr.
As a true freshman in 2006, Quinton Carter earned the reputation as one of Oklahoma's hardest hitters. This season, he's about to show everyone why. Entering his first season as a full-time starter, Carter should only continue to show the same big-hit ability he displayed in OU's win over Missouri in the Big 12 championship game, when he delivered two bone-crushing blows to unfortunate Tiger receivers.