2024 MAC SAF Rankings: Emmanuel McNeil-Warren, Quentavius Scandrett Highlight Third-Level Stars

    The transfer portal ravaged the conference’s talent pool, but the 2024 MAC SAF Rankings highlight the players deserving of attention.

    NFL Draft declarations, the transfer portal, and graduations depleted the conference’s top safeties from last season. However, the 2024 MAC SAF Rankings discuss the top players at the position, including Toledo’s deadly duo.

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    MAC 2024 SAF Rankings

    10) SaVeon Brown, Buffalo Bulls

    Buffalo is replacing starting safety Devin Grant and backup Demetrius Harris. They lured SaVeon Brown away from Western Michigan, where he spent the first two years of his collegiate career, to ease the blow.

    At 6’1″ and 208 pounds, Brown has good size and movement skills, especially in the slot, where he spent most of his time as a reserve safety last season. He’s a bit of an unknown, but the Bulls know how to coach their third-level defenders, and I expect Brown to hit the ground running.

    9) Trent Simms, Bowling Green Falcons

    Following an up-and-down season in 2022, Trent Simms found his role in 2023, only for his season to be cut four games short by an injury. Nevertheless, he was much more consistent, primarily playing in the box after splitting his time at deep safety, slot, and at the second level the year prior.

    Simms vastly improved as a tackler and rarely allowed catches in his coverage, restricting offensive output.

    8) Aaron Wofford, Western Michigan Broncos

    Aaron Wofford took his lumps from the slot, allowing several touchdowns on tape. However, he flies all over the field, owning the versatility to line up in the box, slot, and deep safety without looking out of place.

    MORE: Could More Teams Join UMass in the MAC?

    While he allowed a handful of TDs, Wofford did record two interceptions and five more pass breakups. I expect him to fare far better in 2024, conceding more than half the number of scores while getting his hands on passes with an even higher frequency.

    7) Eli Blakey, Miami RedHawks

    The 2022 season was supposed to be Eli Blakey’s coming-out party, but an arm injury ended his campaign after only five games. He took some time to ramp up in 2023, but by the end of the year, he was one of the conference’s foremost safeties.

    Blakey saw a near-even split in the slot, box, and deep third, showcasing his range and ability in run defense at 6’2″ and 208 pounds. A fully healthy season should only propel him up the 2024 MAC SAF Rankings.

    6) Damari Roberson, Western Michigan Broncos

    Damari Roberson’s snap count resembles a linebacker’s (he spends most of his time in the box and slot), but he is only 6’1″ and weighs 205 pounds. He loaded up the stat sheet in 2023, recording 68 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, a half-sack, one INT, six PBUs, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.

    Roberson’s size makes it difficult for him to make a massive impact in the ground game, but he’s a sure tackler with the ability to carry pass catchers vertically inside the hashes.

    5) Adonis Williams Jr., Ohio Bobcats

    On any given play, you’ll find Adonis Williams Jr. along the defensive line, crashing in the box, covering from the slot, or roaming as a deep safety. The 2023 season was only his second with significant snaps, but his yearly growth was immense. While he can improve as a tackler, Williams shined against the pass, limiting yardage per catch.

    4) Nate Valcarcel, Northern Illinois Huskies

    A first-year starter, Nate Valcarcel didn’t disappoint in 2023, snatching three picks. He may be NIU’s free safety, but nothing is complimentary in his coverage. However, Valcarcel does more than just act as the team’s last line of defense, driving down to fill holes in the run game and even getting home on a few blitzes.

    3) Maxen Hook, Toledo Rockets

    Toledo routinely had four safeties on the field, including defensive mainstay Maxen Hook. Entering his fourth year as a starter, the Rockets know what to expect from their three-time All-MAC selection. Hook is a reliable run defender, tackler, and cover man with a career résumé that few can rival in the conference: 249 tackles, five INTs, and 11 PBUs.

    2) Quentavius Scandrett, Eastern Michigan Eagles

    Quentavius Scandrett’s two-year production doesn’t look too impressive (107 tackles, three INTs, and three PBUs), but he’s arguably the best tackler on the 2024 MAC SAF Rankings. At 6’2″ and 189 pounds, Scandrett also has the sideline-to-sideline range to make QBs pay for lofting passes, and he’ll lay big hits to separate receivers from the ball all the same.

    1) Emmanuel McNeil-Warren, Toledo Rockets

    After biding his time on special teams as a true freshman, Emmanuel McNeil-Warren exploded as a starter, racking up 69 tackles, two picks, three breakups, and four forced fumbles.

    KEEP READING: 2024 MAC EDGE Rankings

    A disruptive playmaker, EMW’s biggest impact came as a run defender, as he frequently knifed through gaps and blew up ball carriers before they could turn upfield. Hook is the veteran in the secondary, but McNeil-Warren is the Jackson Storm to his Lightning McQueen.

    2024 MAC SAF Rankings | 11-20

    11) Marcus Fuqua, Buffalo  
    12) Alex Branch, Kent State
    13) Tate Hallock, Western Michigan
    14) Jordan Hansen, Northern Illinois
    15) Josh Baka, Kent State
    16) Silas Walters, Miami
    17) Patrick Day, Bowling Green
    18) Jeremiah Wood, Ohio
    19) C.J. Brown, Bowling Green
    20) Armahn Hale, Kent State

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