Who is the best safety in college football? If you go by the numbers, the names at the top of the list may surprise you. The Jim Thorpe Award, which allegedly goes to the best defensive back in the country, recently released its 15 semifinalists, 8 of whom are safeties. Letâ€™s do a blind comparison of these 8 players with some other safeties from around the country who arenâ€™t on the list, and see how the numbers stack up as to whom is the best safety in the country â€¦ I will break the blind comparisons into 4 groups, each with two â€œpremier,â€ â€œelectrifying,â€ â€œgame-breaking,â€ â€œeliteâ€ â€œtalentsâ€ and one blue collar, overachieving gym rat who really understands the playbook, always brings his lunch pail, hard hat, and non-stop motor, and has a really good feel for the game â€¦ and was deemed not good enough for consideration. Without the benefit of the â€œexpertsâ€ at ESPN (and other media outlets) telling you what to believe, see if you can pick out which is which. Group 1: Player A - (6-foot-1, 215 pounds; senior) - 9 games: 20 solo tackles (40 total), 0.5 tackles-for-loss, 2 interceptions, 5 passes defensed, 2 quarterback hurries Player B - (5-foot-11, 200 pounds; sophomore) - 9 games: 63 solo tackles (110 total tackles), 1.5 tackles-for loss, 1 pass defensed, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 quarterback hurry Player C - (6-foot-2, 217 pounds; senior) - 10 games: 37 solo tackles (50 total), 3.5 tackles-for-loss, 2 interceptions, 3 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery If you guessed Player B, you clearly have an eye for the â€œnot very talented.â€ Player B is Nate Holley of Kent State. He not only isnâ€™t being considered for the Thorpe Award (I guess having more tackles, both solo and total, than the "real" players combined means nothing), he was barely considered for a Division One scholarship. His only offer was from Kent State, and he only received it after a â€œrealâ€ afflete, er, athlete failed to qualify. This unwanted athlete already has three separate games this season with at least 12 solo tackles. Player A is Sam Carter of TCU, who was recruited by virtually everyone and was a preseason All-American this year. Player C is Cody Prewitt of Ole Miss, also recruited by virtually everyone and returning (and preseason) All-American. Prewitt is said by many â€œexpertsâ€ to be the best safety in the country. Group 2: Player A - (6-foot-2, 205 pounds; junior; Duke) - 9 games: 52 solo tackles (82 total), 5.0 tackles-for-loss, 2 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 1.5 sacks, 5 quarterback hurries, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery Player B - (6-foot-0, 222 pounds; junior) - 9 games: 31 solo tackles (61 total), 2.0 tackles-for-loss, 2 interceptions, 7 passes defensed, 2 quarterback hurries Player C - (6-foot-0, 192 pounds; senior) - 10 games: 53 solo tackles (75 total), 1 tackle-for-loss, 5 interceptions, 7 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery If you guessed Player C, you can spot an overachieving hustler with no trouble at all. Player C is Landon Feichter from Purdue. His interception total is #3 nationally for safeties, and his solo tackle (and total tackles) totals are not only team-highs for the Boilermakers but also rank #9 nationally for defensive backs. The former walk-on received absolutely no collegiate recruiting interest, and he is now also being grievously overlooked for postseason accolades. In his most recent outing, Feichter single-handedly tried to keep the Boilermakers in the game against Wisconsin, finishing with 10 solo tackles (12 total), 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and a key 4th down stop ... but apparently none of the â€œtalentâ€ â€œevaluatorsâ€ thought it worthy of notice. Player A is Jeremy Cash of Duke, a 3-star recruit with scholarship offers from everyone coming out of high school and a returning All-American. Player B is Landon Collins from Alabama, a â€œconsensusâ€ 5-star recruit coming out of high school considered possibly the #1 player in the nation â€¦ and a preseason All-American. Group 3: Player A - (6-foot-1, 201 pounds; senior) - 10 games: 31 solo tackles (54 total), 4.5 tackles-for-loss, 6 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 2.5 sacks, 5 quarterback hurries, and 1 forced fumble Player B - (6-foot-2, 213 pounds; sophomore) - 10 games: 25 solo tackles (31 total), 2.0 tackles-for-loss, 13 interceptions, 16 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble Player C - (6-foot-2, 220 pounds; senior) - 10 games: 20 solo tackles (54 total), 2 interceptions, 9 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles If you guessed Player A, then you can pick out a gym rat from an electrifying game-breaker with ease. Player A is Frankie Sutera from Utah State, and his interception total is #3 in the country (the #2 safety). This former walk-on was completely unwanted by Division One programs coming out of high school, but he is putting up these numbers in his first-year as a starter and his first year getting significant playing time outside of special teams. But â€œsomehowâ€ I suppose he doesnâ€™t have â€œdat upsideâ€ I hear so much about. Player B is Gerod Holliman from Louisville and is receiving all the hype in the world, even being said to belong in the Heisman race and being compared to All-Pro safety Ed Reed. Thereâ€™s no doubt that Holliman has a nose for playing the football in the air, but I guess having fewer TOTAL tackles than Sutera has SOLO tackles is why Holliman is called a â€œphysical enforcer.â€ Holliman made virtually no plays at all last year, but his performance this year is said to clearly demonstrate his vast potential. â€œWeird,â€ that his first year as a starter equals upside but Suteraâ€™s screams nothing â€¦ huh? Player C is Ronald Martin of LSU, a 3-star recruit with offers to several collegiate programs coming out of high school. Group 4: Player A - (5-foot-11, 210 pounds; senior) - 9 games: 43 solo tackles (61 total), 2.5 tackles-for-loss, 1 interception, 4 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles Player B - (5-foot-11, 170 pounds; senior) - 9 games: 39 solo tackles (67 total), 0.5 tackles-for-loss, 3 interceptions, 10 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries Player C - (6-foot-2, 200 pounds; junior) - 10 games: 34 solo tackles (53 total), 3.5 tackles-for-loss, 3 interceptions (2 returned for touchdowns), 5 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble If you guessed Player C, then you can pick out a blue collar from a mile away. With 153 yards (#2 in the nation) and 2 touchdowns (tied for #1 in the nation) off his 3 picks, Matt Dobson of Georgia Southern is perhaps the personification of electrifying big plays â€¦ well â€¦ uh â€¦ never mind that. Also ignore that he made back-to-back game-saving plays, including a pass break-up in the end zone, against Florida last season to help Georgia Southern win a HUGE upset over the Gators in Gainesville. Also ignore that he was a 3-star athlete with 4.54 speed and was a 2-time state champion coming out of high school in Florida, because all the major football programs did. Well, unless you count Florida International and Samford as major programs. Player A is Jordan Richards from Stanford, a former 3-star recruit with offers from virtually every school on the West Coast and a preseason and midseason All-American. Player B is Triston Wade of Texas San Antonio. If you haven't noticed before now, all the players who "earned" their spot on the Jim Thorpe semifinalist list (as well as being highly sought after recruits coming out of high school) share a common attribute. This attribute is NOT shared by ANY of the "unworthy" players. What is that commonality? Take a look at the overlooked players below, and see if you detect a pattern. Nate Holley, Kent State's tackling machine â€¦ all game every game. Landon Feichter celebrates after forcing and recovering a fumble â€¦ and an interception â€¦ and a 4th down stop, all in the same game. Imagine what he could do if he had talent! Frankie Sutera, pariah turned playmaker Matt Dobson crushed the spirit of thousands of Florida Gator DWFs last year â€¦ and continues to explode for one big play (another defensive touchdown, anyone?) â€¦ after another. CLEARLY he's overachieving over and over again in defiance of all logic! Figured out the pattern yet?