Back OAYP: 2019 ACC Safety Rankings

Back To ACC

OAYP: 2019 ACC Safety Rankings

By Jim Johnson
Follow us at  Become a fan at the Facebook Page

The new OAYP advanced metric ranks the ACC's returning safeties.

In case you missed it, I’ve already released the marginal OAYP rankings for all the qualifying ACC offensive players as well as the front seven defenders and cornerbacks. Those, along with a more comprehensive explanation (in the QB rankings), can be found here:

QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | EDGE | DL | LB | CB

Today, we wrap things up with the safeties. As we did with all the other players, we’ll tier them out into ‘superstars’ (marginal OAYP >1.0), ‘second tier’ (marginal OAYP between 0.5-1.0), and potential breakout stars (players that didn’t get enough reps to qualify, but posted high OAYP scores on a smaller sample size).

*marginal OAYP in parentheses*


-Andre Cisco, Syracuse (1.66)

An All-American as a true freshman last year, the first true freshman to ever do so in Syracuse history, Andre Cisco’s honors could already fill multiple pages and his name is forever scrawled throughout the school record books, no matter what happens in the future. He tied for the national lead with seven interceptions in 2018, and with former Boston College standout Hamp Cheevers off to the NFL, he returns as the lone leader. He also tallied 18 total passes defended, good for the national top ten, allowed fewer than 50% of throws into his coverage to be completed, and gave up a mere 54.4 passer rating and 0.58 yards per coverage snap. He was one of the preeminent reasons for Syracuse’s meteoric rise to national relevance a season ago, and he’s nowhere near finished.

Second Tier

-Joey Blount, Virginia (0.94)
-Leonard Johnson, Duke (0.88)
-K'Von Wallace, Clemson (0.73)
-Tanner Muse, Clemson (0.55)

Joey Blount didn’t have the raw productivity that his former teammate Juan Thornhill did last year as started less than half the games for UVA, nor does he possess Thornhill’s ridiculous athletic profile, but he was arguably as impactful when he was out there. With Blount taking on more of a leadership role, Brenton Nelson presumably filling any void left behind by Thornhill, and Darius Bratton’s projected emergence opposite the best cornerback in college football, Bryce Hall, there’s no reason to think that Virginia won’t have one of the best defensive backfields in the country once again.

Duke’s secondary boasts unbelievable depth and experience heading into 2019. Between four safeties and three cornerbacks, assuming Mark Gilbert is back and healthy, there are seven players in their defensive backfield that meet the minimum qualifying threshold for OAYP, and all but one of them scores positively in the marginal rankings, with Lummie Young coming in just below the conference mean. Now, other than Gilbert, you may not have heard much about the rest of them, but you will -- especially Leonard Johnson. As a redshirt freshman, Johnson was a force at and around the line of scrimmage where returns the third most tackles for loss on the team, behind two defensive linemen. He also flashed some playmaking ability that hearkened back to his days as a high school wide receiver, taking his lone interception 53 yards to the house. Duke’s depth is fantastic, but the more Leonard Johnson we see in 2019, the better.

The reigning national champs have had a returning player in the superstar category or second tier of every single position group so far, outside of tight end. The safeties are no different with K’Von Wallace and Tanner Muse rounding out the backend. The two pair nicely, with complementary skill sets. Muse played really deep off the ball two years ago, but could be found near the line of scrimmage more often last year, tallying 6.5 run stuffs, which fits better with his size and admitted deficiencies in coverage. Meanwhile, Wallace relies on his high end athleticism and versatility to play anywhere from single high to the slot -- and he can compete at the catch point with the best of them. With all of the personnel attrition up front -- although that group will still be very good, if not great -- it’s important that both of these guys continue to improve during their final campaigns.

Potential Breakout Star

-Amari Carter, Miami (0.85)

Miami only returns one starter from its elite 2018 secondary, star cornerback Trajan Bandy, but just like they have a major breakout candidate opposite Bandy in Al Blades Jr., so too do they in safety Amari Carter. Carter was a special teams dynamo as a freshman two years ago and a key reserve last season, earning two starts. He matches a high football IQ with length, size, physicality, and an attacking mentality. On a limited sample size last year, he racked up three tackles for loss, a sack, three pass breakups, and a pair of stuffs. Replacing Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine is no fun task, but Carter will make it a whole lot easier.

Full Marginal OAYP Rankings for Returning ACC Safeties

1. Andre Cisco, Syracuse (1.66)
2. Joey Blount, Virginia (0.94)
3. Leonard Johnson, Duke (0.88)
4. K'Von Wallace, Clemson (0.73)
5. Tanner Muse, Clemson (0.55)
6. Brenton Nelson, Virginia (0.43)
7. Marquis Waters, Duke (0.4)
8. Nolan Turner, Clemson (0.31)
9. Dylan Singleton, Duke (0.25)
10. Jaiden Lars-Woodbey, Florida State (0.19)
11. Myles Dorn (17), North Carolina (0.19)
13. Damar Hamlin, Pitt (0.16)
14. Tariq Carpenter, Georgia Tech (0.01)
15. Jazzee Stocker, Pitt (-0.02)
16. Evan Foster, Syracuse (-0.05)
17. Jarius Morehead, NC State (-0.08)
18. Lummie Young, Duke (-0.08)
19. Nasir Greer, Wake Forest (-0.14)
20. Kahlil Ladler, Virginia Tech (-0.17)
21. Myles Wolfolk (17), North Carolina (-0.2)
22. Tim Kidd-Glass, NC State (-0.41)
23. Reggie Floyd, Virginia Tech (-0.47)
24. Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State (-0.47)
25. Luke Masterson, Wake Forest (-0.74)
26. Divine Deablo, Virginia Tech (-0.83)
27. TreSean Smith, Louisville (-1.4)
28. Khane Pass, Louisville (-1.64)

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP