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Top 10 Best Safeties in College Football 2023 Rankings

Ranking the best safeties in College Football for the 2023 NCAA season as Xavier Watts of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish leads the way

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By admin | November 7, 2023

The game of football is built around multiple positions all coming together on one side of the ball to stop the opposing team or make plays against them. On the defensive side one of those key positions that continues to evolve is the safety position in which teams are finding ways to utilize these tremendous talents in a wide range of roles while having the versatility to play the run, attack the quarterback, or defend the pass. As you look at the Top 10 Best Safeties in College Football 2023-2024 Rankings list each of these safeties are producing at a prominent level during the 2023-2024 NCAA Football Season.

Standing atop the list of the best safeties in college football during the current season is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Xavier Watts. Watts has been brilliant during his senior season while continuing to build a strong resume for the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft.

Currently the Fighting Irish senior safety leads all of college football in interceptions while making plays up at the line of scrimmage and against the run. Joining Watts among the top five best safeties is Malaki Starks of the Georgia Bulldogs, Andre’ Sam of the LSU Tigers, Calen Bullock of the USC Trojans, and Devin Grant of the Buffalo Bulls.

Here is a look at the Top 10 Best Safeties in College Football 2023-2024 Rankings:

Honorable Mention

Cameron Epps

School: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Just missing the Top 10 Best Safeties in College Football 2023-2024 Rankings list is the Oklahoma State Cowboys safety Cameron Epps. Epps is a dynamic playmaker in the Cowboys secondary while making an immediate impact during his first full season with the team.

In eight games this season Epps has been all over the field while making plays both against the pass as well as against the run. Over the stretch the St. Louis Missouri native has racked up 29 total tackles, four passes defended, three interceptions and one interception returned for a touchdown.

As Epps continues to build his name recognition, the play on the field continues to rank among the best safeties in college football.

Cedarious Barfield

School: San Diego State Aztecs

A name that might go under the radar among the talented safeties in college football is the San Diego State Aztecs safety Cedarious Barfield. The senior safety is turning in his best season of his collegiate career posting a career high three interceptions to start the season.

In addition, Barfield has added 29 tackles including 19 solo tackles while lining up all over the field for the Aztecs this season. Barfield continues to display great athleticism at the position after making the transition to safety from the cornerback position while also showcasing his Football Intelligence and playmaking abilities.

Top 10 Safeties in College Football 2023 Rankings

10. Jaden Hicks

School: Washington State Cougars

Coming in at number 10 on the Top 10 Best Safeties in College Football 2023-2024 Rankings list is Jaden Hicks of the Washington State Cougars. Hicks, who has been on the NFL radar for the past two seasons, demonstrates a high football IQ along with having all the physical tools and tangibles to be a top tier safety at the next level.

Hicks, who lists at 6 foot 3 inches plays as physical as any safety in college football while also having tenacious ball hawking skills allowing him to find the ball in the air and to readjust his positioning.

On the season Hicks has posted 48 total tackles to go along with one interception returned for a touchdown, one forced fumble, 1.5 sacks, and four passes defended. Hicks has been all over the field for the Cougars this season.

9. Cole Bishop

School: Utah Utes

On paper the numbers might not stack up to his true potential nonetheless Cole Bishop has looked strong all season for the Utah Utes. The versatile safety has the physical tangibles and size at 6 foot 2 inches to line up against opposing tight ends while also having the quickness and elusive hands to get into the back field.

Over the start of the 2023-2024 NCAA season, Bishop has posted 42 total tackles to go along with two sacks, one forced fumble, and posted two interceptions to go along with three passes defended. 

8. Brylan Green

School: Liberty Flames

Another small school safety standing out to start the 2023-2024 NCAA Football season is the Liberty Flames safety Brylan Green. The former three-star recruit is slowly blossoming into a top tier safety for the Flames during his sophomore season.

After posting 32 tackles and one pass defended as a freshman the athletic and speedy safety has posted 26 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and four passes defended to start the season. However, Green’s biggest impact has been his ability to find the football while recording five interceptions on the season while ranking second in all of college football.

7. Tyler Nubin

School: Minnesota Golden Gophers

Entering the 2023-2024 NCAA Football season Tyler Nubin ranked among the best college football players returning for the season. Nubin has not disappointed for the Minnesota Golden Gophers during his 5th year senior season.

Over the past three seasons Nubin has recorded at least three interceptions in each of those seasons while posting at least 36 total tackles. As the season continues to roll along, Nubin has been listed among the best safeties who will be available during the 2023 NFL Draft. 

6. Kamren Kinchens

School: Miami Hurricanes

After posting a tremendous sophomore season last year for the Miami Hurricanes including picking off a career high six interceptions including a 99 yard interception returned for a touchdown, Kamren Kinchens continues to play at an elevated level this season. The Hurricanes safety has exceptional instincts and has shown it over the course of the 2023 college football season.

In six games this season, Kinchens has posted 41 total tackles including nine tackles in two games. This is while also posting one sack, four passes defended, and three interceptions including a 29 yard interception returned for a touchdown in the Hurricanes 29-26 win against the Virginia Cavaliers. Kinchens continues to move his name up the draft board while ranking among the best safeties in college football.

5. Devin Grant

School: Buffalo Bulls

Rounding out the Top 10 Best Safeties in College Football 2023-2024 Rankings list is the Buffalo Bulls sophomore safety Devin Grant. One of the true ballhawks among college football safeties, Grant has developed into one of the best as he has had the opportunity to be a every down player on defense this season for the Bulls.

At 6 foot 4 inches, Grant has the size and power to make plays in the backfield while showcasing his ability to matchup against opposing tight ends and bigger physical receivers at the line of scrimmage.

Despite playing at a smaller school, it is hard to look past Grant’s playmaking abilities while slotting him in among the best safeties in college. Grant has posted 59 tackles on the season while recording five interceptions with two returned for touchdowns.

4. Calen Bullock

School: USC Trojans

Expected as one of the top safeties off the board during the 2024 NFL Draft, Calen Bullock of the USC Trojans continues to excel while ranking among the best in the game. After arriving to the Trojans, the former four-star recruit has produced from his freshman season straight through his junior season.

As a sophomore Bullock recorded five interceptions including a 93 yard return for a touchdown. This season while his interceptions have dropped to just two, the Trojans safety is all over the field while matching his career high with six passes defended.

However, despite the drop in interceptions, much of that is due to the lack of balls thrown his direction as opposing quarterbacks and offenses have looked to avoid him during most of the games this season.

3. Andre’ Sam

School: LSU Tigers

One of the older safeties in college football Andre’ Sam is making the most out of his first season with the LSU Tigers. After spending last season with the Marshall Thundering Herd, Sam transferred into the Tigers while helping to solidify the team’s secondary.

Sam has not disappointed posting 50 tackles over the course of the season while recording a career high three interceptions. Like many of the other top safeties, the lack of opportunities thrown his way has impacted his ability to stuff the stat sheet. Nonetheless the six foot safety has all the physical tools and tangibles to make the jump to the next level next year.

2. Malaki Starks

School: Georgia Bulldogs

Arriving on campus last season as a freshman for the Georgia Bulldogs, lofty expectations were set forth for Malaki Starks. Expectations the freshman exceeded while anchoring down the safety position while posting 69 tackles to go along with seven passes defended and two interceptions. 

Fast forward to another strong season for the Bulldogs and Starks has been a key member of the team’s defense while forcing opposing offenses to game plan for him.

Despite being game planned for, Starks has been strong all season recording four passes defended and two interceptions while also adding 29 total tackles. The former five star recruit continues to develop into a game changer within the secondary for the Bulldogs each week.

1. Xavier Watts

School: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

In at number one on the Top 10 Best Safeties in College Football 2023-2024 Rankings list is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Xavier Watts. The senior safety has been brilliant all season long for the Fighting Irish who are making a push to make a run for the 2023-2024 College Football Playoffs. 

Entering the first college football game of November, Watts leads the country in interceptions after posting six interceptions to start the season. Overall Watts has recorded career highs in tackles (39), passes defended (4), and interceptions with three games remaining on their schedule. 


How would you rank the Best Safeties in College Football for the 2023-2024 BCS season? Rank below to be added in the NCAA Power Rankings.

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  1. Xavier Watts

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  2. Sydney Brown

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  8. Antonio Johnson

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