The Big Ten Conference is no stranger to churning out elite NFL-caliber safeties. They’re practically in the business of it.
During the 2022 season, our television screens were graced with the pass coverage prowess of guys like Sydney Brown and John Torchio. Depending on what game you were watching that day, you may have even been treated to elite safeties such as Ronnie Hickman getting dusted by the Michigan Wolverines.
However, I digress. The conference is once again packed to the brim with talent at the position. Here are the top five safeties in the Big Ten for the 2023 season.
5.) Lathan Ransom — Ohio State
Rounding off the list is Lathan Ransom at No. 5. The senior is entering his fourth year with the Ohio State football program and is coming off of a big year that saw the Tucson native start nine of the Buckeye's twelve games. He was a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award and ranked third on the team in tackles during 2022, with 74.
Ransom also earned honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference honors from both the coaches and voting media. While he only started in nine contests, he was impressive, tallying 3.5 TFLs, an interception, three pass breakups, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
4.) Cam Allen — Purdue
One of the Big Ten’s most experienced veterans at the safety position, Allen’s a fifth year senior for the Boilermakers that has the potential to make them dangerous on D. His 10 interceptions put him just one away from being tied for third in Purdue history.
New head coach Ryan Walters is also expected to deploy a new, more aggressive approach to pressuring the quarterback, which is right up Allen’s alley. With his team set to lose three starters in the secondary heading into next year, much will be asked of Allen, but we think he’ll be up for it.
3.) Makari Paige — Michigan
A rising star on the Michigan defense, Paige started taking the Wolverine world by storm during Week 5 when he made his first start against Iowa. During split-starting duties with RJ Moten, Paige was a force, totaling 41 tackles with one sack, one interception, three pass breakups, and one quarterback hurry.
Highest graded returning Safeties pic.twitter.com/Nf1vv7pZ4Q— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 14, 2023
Close followers of Michigan football aren’t the only ones taking notice. In a recent grade by PFF, Paige was named as the seventh highest-graded safety among all Power 5 returning safeties. We’ll be watching with anticipation to watch his progression, as the senior has just five starts under his belt, but is still seasoned, appearing in an entirety of 27 games during his time at Michigan.
2.) Tyler Nubin — Minnesota
The Saint Charles, Illinois native is the definition of reliability, not having missed a start for PJ Fleck and company over the last 2 years.
In 2022, Nubin started in all 11 of the games he played in, making a total of 55 tackles (37 solo), four interceptions, three pass breakups, and a forced fumble.
1.) Rod Moore — Michigan
Let’s be honest, we all knew where this was headed. NFL draft prognosticators believe Moore is a potential top-two-round draft selection. PFF went as far as putting Moore on their top-10 safeties to watch list for the 2024 NFL Draft.
As a sophomore, Moore is brimming with potential stardom. In 2022, Moore appeared in all 14 of the Wolverines matchups at safety and made starts in 13 of those games. He led all defensive backs on the team with 71 tackles, while also adding 1.5 tackles for loss and a shared sack. He also posted a team-leading four interceptions among seven pass breakups, and one quarterback hurry.