Safeties strong in numbers in the Big East

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
My colleagues Chris Low and Ted Miller have an interesting debate today over who's the best safety in college football: Tennessee's Eric Berry or USC's Taylor Mays.

Berry and Mays are getting a lot of attention this preseason, and rightfully so. But the debate made me think that the Big East has some pretty good safeties this year, too. In fact, it may be one of the deeper positions in the league.

Here are my top five Big East safeties for 2009, in no particular order:

Nate Allen, South Florida: Incredibly athletic guy, with a prototypical NFL body. Needs to bounce back from a slightly disappointing junior season.

Aaron Webster, Cincinnati: Brought a real toughness to the Bearcats' defense when he moved into the starting lineup after a few games last season. A big hitter who will be called upon to lead an inexperienced defense.

Robert Vaughn, Connecticut: Flies a little under the radar, like most Huskies. All he does is produce, with nine interceptions the past two years and 27 straight starts.

Dom DeCicco, Pittsburgh: Really came on at the end of last year, including a big Sun Bowl performance. Has a nose for the ball.

Robert Sands, West Virginia: Unusually tall (6-foot-5) for a safety, he started nine games as a true freshman and looks like a future star.

That's a pretty good list, and I didn't even include Rutgers' Joe Lefeged, West Virginia's Sidney Glover or Pitt's Elijah Fields. There may not be a Taylor Mays or Eric Berry in this league, but the Big East has some awfully good safeties, too.