Many see the safety position as the quarterback of the defense.
The safety has the luxury of seeing the entire field before the ball is snapped. If an adjustment needs to be made, quite often he's the guy to do it.
The basics for any safety in the college game are to control the middle or half of the field, and to make sure nothing gets behind them.
They are, of course, the final line of the defense.
But what separates these five safeties from the rest is their big play ability; not only do they manage the required tasks, but they go above and beyond them.
They will act as a fourth linebacker, filling the running lanes. If the defense needs a big play, they will usually be the ones to make the big hit, or pick off an errant pass.
These safeties make life much more uncomfortable for the quarterback, not to mention anyone who dares to cross the middle of the field.
Here are the top five safeties for the 2009 college football season.
Senior Darrell Stuckey has been a staple for the Kansas defense ever since they began their turnaround as a program.
Last season, Stuckey was honored for his work and dedication to the program, as he was named to the Big-12 first unit. He finished the season with 98 tackles and five interceptions.
The senior was key to last season's success against the run, as the Jayhawks only allowed 3.9 yards per catch.
His leadership skills may trump all of the box score numbers, though; Stuckey's play down the stretch against Missouri's potent offense was critical to Kansas's 40-37 victory.
Look for Darrell to continue his dominant play in the Big-12 this season. They will need it, as they face Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma this fall.
When watching Baylor's Lake on defense, it's hard not to wonder if the man is possessed.
He plays with reckless abandon that you don't see as often from the safety position.
The way he approaches each play has changed the attitude on the Baylor defense. He is—without a doubt—one of the hardest hitters in the conference.
Jordan racked up 97 tackles last season with the Bears, a number that put him in the top tier of Big-12 defensive backs.
He has amassed over 200 tackles the last couple of seasons, along with nearly 20 pass breakups.
A new defensive coordinator and scheme allowed for a few more mistakes then Lake or the Baylor defense would have liked, but with that season and spring ball under his belt, you would imagine that any issues have been resolved.
The senior Bear found himself in on nearly every tackle last season, so don't expect that to change this fall.
Eskridge is viewed by many as the top safety in the Conference USA, but is somewhat of a dark horse when compared to those around the nation.
Van received first-team All-Conference USA honors this past season. He finished second on the team with 97 tackles, and also recorded four interceptions.
This strong safety has thrived at the position after being moved from outside linebacker as an underclassmen.
East Carolina will put a dominant defense on the field in 2009, with several guys returning to their starting roles.
Many will talk about Berry and Mays this off season, but don't be surprised if Eskridge isn't whispered in those same circles.
Eric Berry may end up being one of the greatest safeties to play the college game in a long time.
Placing him at the second overall position was a difficult choice, citing experience in the game as the only reason.
Berry was named the SEC Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2008, and rightfully so—he tied for the lead in interceptions in the country with seven, often making big plays once he had the ball in his hands.
The young safety also recorded two defensive touchdowns, along with three sacks.
Needless to say, he can do it all.
The All-American quickly became known as the heaviest hitter in the conference and the country.
If you don't believe me, check the tapes from both the Alabama and Georgia games.
Moreno was quick to find the sidelines after the devastating hit left the talented runner wobbly and unable to stand.
Putting a better unit around Eric will be important for the growth of this young star.
A Monte Kiffin-led defensive unit can only mean greener pastures for the strong safety from Knoxville.
The body of work that Taylor Mays has put together over the last four years is hard to top.
It is the main reason he tops the list over Eric Berry.
This giant at safety has proven his great work ethic and dedication by sticking around for his senior season.
Mays is a fearless hitter who you can always count on for run support.
The two-time All-American will enter the 2009 season as the front runner for the Jim Thorpe award, an award given to the nation's top defensive back.
Although he many not intercept as many passes, Mays recorded a team high nine pass breakups last season.
The senior safety will be responsible for roaming the middle of the field once again this season. If he can be as consistent in pass coverage as he is in stopping the run, the Trojans should have another successful season.