Not many similarities exist between basketball and football; however, both sports have one position in common, center and safety. In basketball, the center is the last line of defense. If an opposing player gets pass the center; they will be able to attack the basket and score.
The safety is the protector of the endzone. If an opposing wide receiver burns a safety, a touchdown will be the result nine out of ten times. A safety’s primary job is to read the quarterback’s eyes and help the cornerback. They are called upon to be secure tacklers and hard hitters. Safeties can undercut routes and create turnovers or play it safe and deflect the pass away.
Alabama has had its share of hard hitting, talented safeties. From George Teague to Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, the Crimson Tide prides itself on recruiting safeties that will be leaders in the secondary and generate huge plays.
Top 8 Safeties of All-Time
8. Rashad Johnson (2004-08)
- Under the leadership of Mike Shula and Nick Saban, Johnson became an instinctive safety.
- Johnson went from being a walk-on to a leader in Alabama’s secondary in 2007.
- He totaled 137 tackles, six interceptions, eight pass breakups, four forced fumbles and a sack in his career.
- Johnson’s finest season was in 2008.
- In 2008, he recorded 94 tackles, six interceptions and eight pass breakups.
- Johnson is mostly remembered for his performance against LSU in 2008. He intercepted Tigers quarterback, Jarret Lee three times. One of his INTs was returned for a 54-yard touchdown.
- He made three bowl appearances with Alabama.
- Johnson was Alabama’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2007.
- He was named First-team All-SEC in 2007.
- Johnson was selected by the Arizona Cardinals as the 95th (third round) pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
- He has 148 tackles, 10 pass deflections, three interceptions, one forced fumble and a touchdown in his career.
7. Jessie B. “Benny” Perrin (1978-81)
- Perrin was a member on one of the final teams coached by Paul Bryant.
- He played in 22 games in his tenure at Alabama.
- Perrin collected four interceptions for 127 yards and a touchdown in his career.
- His best season was in 1981.
- In 1981, Perrin had three interceptions.
- He made four bowl appearances with the Tide.
- Perrin was a two-time SEC champion in 1978-79.
- He was a two-time Sugar Bowl champion.
- Perrin was a two-time national champion in 1978-79.
- The St. Louis Cardinals selected Perrin with the 65th pick (third round) in the 1982 NFL Draft.
- He played four seasons in the NFL, collecting nine interceptions, five fumble recoveries and a sack.
6. Samuel R. “Sam” Shade (1992-94)
- Under head coach Gene Stallings, Shade was pivotal in Alabama’s success in 1992.
- He played in 36 games during his tenure at Alabama.
- Shade amassed five interceptions for 68 yards in his career.
- He recorded two interceptions in 1992 and 1993.
- Shade was a 3x SEC West Division champion in 1994-96.
- He was an SEC champion in 1992.
- Shade won a national title with Alabama in 1993 (1992 season).
- The Cincinnati Bengals selected Shade with the 102nd pick (fourth round) in the 1995 NFL Draft.
- He played eight years in the league with Cincinnati and Washington.
- Shade totaled 563 tackles, 10 interceptions and 8.5 sacks in his career.
5. Roman Harper (2002-05)
- Harper developed into a dominant safety under Dennis Franchione and Mike Shula.
- He put in 302 tackles, five interceptions, 15 pass breakups, 3.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in his career.
- In 2003, Harper led Alabama in tackles with 114.
- He helped the Tide achieve a 10-2 season in 2005.
- Harper was a First-team All-SEC selection in 2005.
- He was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2005.
- Harper made three bowl appearances with Alabama.
- He was drafted as the 43rd pick (second round) by the New Orleans Saints in the 2006 NFL Draft.
- Harper is a two-time Pro Bowler (2009, 2010)
- He won a Super Bowl with the Saints (2010 Super Bowl XLIV) in the 2009 season.
- Harper has 654 tackles, 17.0 sacks, seven interceptions and 14 forced fumbles in his career.
- He has played nine years in the NFL and is currently with the Carolina Panthers.
4. Tommy Wilcox (1979-82)
- Wilcox was a member of the final Alabama team Bryant coached.
- He played in 33 games during his time at Alabama.
- Wilcox recorded two interceptions in his career. Both came in 1980.
- He is mostly remembered for his interception against Arkansas in the 1980 Sugar Bowl. Alabama won the game 24-9 and secured its sixth national title under Bryant.
- Wilcox was a two-time All-American in 1981-82.
- He made four bowl appearances with the Tide (1979-80, 1981-82)
- Wilcox was an SEC champion in 1979 and an SEC Co-champion in 1980.
- He was a two-time national champion (1978 and 1979 seasons).
3. Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix (2010-13)
- Under head coach Nick Saban, Clinton-Dix excelled at reading plays.
- He had 99 tackles, seven interceptions and 10 pass breakups in his career.
- Clinton-Dix led the Tide with five interceptions in 2012.
- He was a Consensus All-American in 2013.
- Clinton-Dix was First-team All-SEC in 2013.
- He was an SEC champion in 2012.
- Clinton was a two-time national champion (2011 and 2012 seasons).
- The Green Bay Packers selected Clinton-Dix with the 21st pick (first round) in the 2014 NFL Draft.
2. Mark Barron (2008-11)
- Barron was the definition of a hard hitting safety at Alabama.
- He racked up 237 tackles (13 tackles for loss), 22 pass breakups, 12 interceptions, five sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in his career.
- Barron’s finest performance was in 2009.
- In 2009, he had 76 tackles, 11 pass breakups and seven interceptions.
- Barron led the SEC and was third in the nation in 2009 with seven interceptions.
- He was part of the 2011 Alabama defense that led the nation in all five major categories.
- Barron was a two-time First-team All-American (2010, 2011).
- He was a 3x First-team All-SEC (2009, 2010, 2011)
- He was an SEC champion in 2009.
- Barron was a two-time national champion (2009 and 2011 seasons).
- He was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the 7th pick (first round) in 2012 NFL Draft.
- Barron has 176 tackles, three interceptions, two sacks and a forced fumble in his career.
1. George Teague (1989-92)
- Under coach Stallings, Teague was the definition of a ball-hawking safety.
- He totaled 14 interceptions for 105 yards in his career.
- Teague had six interceptions in 1991 and 1992.
- He is most remembered for his performance in the 1993 Sugar Bowl Game against No. 1 Miami.
- Teague had a 31-yard interception returned for a touchdown and stripped the football away from Hurricanes receiver Lamar Thomas.
- He was an SEC Co-champion in 1989.
- Teague was an SEC champion in 1992.
- He made four bowl appearances with Alabama
- Teague won a national title with the Tide in 1993 (1992 season).
- The Green Bay Packers selected Teague with the 29th pick (first round) of the 1993 NFL Draft.
- He totaled 15 interceptions for 354 yards and two touchdowns in his career.
- Teague played nine years in the NFL (Green Bay, Miami, Dallas)
Honorable Mentions: Jim Bob Harris, Charlie Peprah and Vinnie Sunseri