Top Returning Big Ten Safeties For 2017

    Who’s next in line to succeed Ohio State’s Malik Hooker and become the best Big Ten safety for 2017?

    March 15, 2017

    Who’s next in line to succeed Ohio State’s Malik Hooker and become the best Big Ten safety for 2017?


    In Big Ten country, the East Division has a decided edge on the West, the result of housing Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State. Solely in terms of safeties, though, the West will have the upper hand in 2017. The Wolverines and the Buckeyes lost a lot of defensive back talent at the end of last season. Meanwhile, the West Division is bringing back a handful of proven players, led by the underrated Northwestern duo of seniors Godwin Igwebuike and Kyle Queiro.

    Top Returning Big Ten Safties

    5. Kyle Queiro, Northwestern

    Queiro is an athletic thoroughbred, with the smarts and the work ethic to finish his Wildcat career on the kind of high note that attracts the attention of pro scouts. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, with the ability to elevate high into the air, he’s tough to beat on jump balls. And after starting 10 games as a junior, Queiro now possesses the reps needed to take his game to another level. He shined in coverage in 2016, while also making a career-high 53 tackles and two picks.

    4. Kieron Williams, Nebraska

    After cracking the lineup for the first time in 2016, Williams wants to take his overall game to a higher level as a senior. He really improved as a junior last year, making 69 tackles, four stops for loss and five interceptions, the latter a nod to the offseason work he’d done on his ball skills. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Williams will be more important than even in Lincoln, since all-league teammate Nate Gerry is no longer around to handle the other safety spot.

    3. D’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin

    Dixon is a little undersized at strong safety, just 5-10 and 200 pounds. But he compensates with an aggressive attitude and a certain physicality that benefits him against the run and the pass. Dixon was an asset to the Badgers in his first season in the lineup, earning Third Team All-Big Ten according to the media. He tallied 60 tackles and four interceptions, the latter indicative of his ability to stick to receivers and flip the field when opportunities are presented.

    2. Marcus Allen, Penn State

    Sure, Allen is the Nittany Lion starting free safety. In reality, though, he’s like having an additional linebacker on the field. The intimidating senior is a hard-hitting 6-2, 202-pounder who fearlessly roams the field seeking someone to hammer. Allen is not going to stand out in pass coverage. However, his team-high 110 tackles and six stops for loss a year ago embodied just how instrumental he is to the Penn State run defense.

    1. Godwin Igwebuike, Northwestern

    Igwebuike is the embodiment of what NFL GMs are looking for in a complete safety. The 6-0, 205-pound veteran possesses the characteristics of a hybrid, part-run-stuffing safety and part-lockdown corner. At his core, Igwebuike is a gifted all-around athlete, with terrific closing speed and more than two full years of starting experience. As a junior, he was voted to the All-Big Ten Second Team after making a Northwestern-best 108 tackles, six stops for loss and two interceptions.

    MORE: Top Returning Safeties In College Football For 2017

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