Top safeties, picks 11-15

A funny thing happened on my way to rating the top 10 Tennessee safeties of the 1964-2004 time frame. I struggled with how to compare guys like Bill Bates and Raymond Austin, who were primarily run-stoppers, with guys like Tim Priest and Mike Jones, who rank 1-2 on UT's career interception list.

I also struggled with the fact that Chris White started for just one year but recorded nine interceptions that fall.

I was so determined not to slight guys like Bates, Austin and White that I decided to expand my list from 10 to 15. That way I can recognize the safeties who racked up interceptions by the bunch AND the safeties who racked up ball-carriers. And that way I can recognize a safety who started one year, along with guys who started four years.

That said, here are picks 11 through 15:

15. CHRIS WHITE: After gathering dust on the bench for four years, White blossomed as a fifth-year senior in 1985. He recorded nine interceptions and led the NCAA in return yards with 168. The breakout season earned him All-SEC and Scripps-Howard All-America honors in his only year as a starter. White's nine Oskies in '85 still rank second on UT's single-season list.

14. JASON PARKER: This talented Texan started as a true freshman in 1992. He kept the job in '93 and '94, missed a year under suspension, then returned to start again in '96. He never lived up to the early promise he showed but still registered 10 career interceptions. Parker eventually spent three years with the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe.

13. RAYMOND AUSTIN: The starter at strong safety in '94 and '95, Austin moved to cornerback and did a solid job in '96. After serving as a team captain his senior year, he was a fifth-round NFL Draft pick in '97. Austin ultimately spent four years in the NFL.

12. CHARLES DAVIS: This charismatic New Yorker started at free safety from 1983 through ‘85, then started at strong safety as a senior in '86. His 13 career interceptions rank sixth on UT's career list. Davis has gone on to a fine career in television broadcasting.

11. BILL YOUNG: A starter at free safety in 1966 and '69, he started at corner in '68. Young ranks third on the all-time interceptions list with 15. He made nine of the Oskies in his lone year at cornerback, with three of them coming in a game against Rice.


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