Top-Five Penn State Safeties of the 2010s

By Nick Polak on January 17, 2020 at 11:06 am
Marcus Allen was voted as the Roar Lions Roar top-safety of the past decade for Penn State, followed by Adrian Amos, Garrett Taylor, Malik Golden, and Troy Apke.
Roar Lions Roar

With the 2010s in the rearview mirror, we're ranking the top-five players at each position of the decade, as voted on by the Roar Lions Roar staff. All of this will lead up to the RLR Team of the Decade. We will only be taking into account seasons from 2010-2019, so players like Evan Royster and Devon Still have solely been judged on their seasons during that time frame.

Penn State has been lucky enough to have a very talented group of safeties over the past decade. Let's count down the top-five.

Honorable Mention - Stephen Obeng-Agyapong

  • 2009-2012
  • Career Statistics: 86 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles

SOA didn't get the chance to really make an impact on the field until the tail end of his Penn State career, but he turned into a nice player for the Bill O'Brien-led Nittany Lions. Listed barely above two-star status, Obeng easily outplayed his recruiting pedigree and was a reliable player on the back end.

No. 5 - Troy Apke

  • 2014-2017
  • Career Statistics: 111 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble

Another late bloomer, Apke didn't start until his junior season. Recruited out of high school as a wide receiver, the Mt. Lebanon product was known for his blazing speed, which he put to great use at the safety position. He didn't stuff the box score or alter any game plans, but by the time his senior year rolled around, Apke was as reliable as any safety in the past decade. Thanks to his rapid improvement over the years, and his blazing 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, Apke was drafted in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by Washington.

No. 4 - Malik Golden

  • 2012-2016
  • Career Statistics: 130 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble

Golden made his name on special teams for the Nittany Lions until finally getting the chance to start as a senior on that magical 2016 team. Looking back, he was arguably the best running mate that our top-vote getter had. Golden hit like a truck, but also was able to provide enough in coverage to make him a tough matchup for anyone he was put up against. Had he been able to get on the field earlier in his career, he could have potentially finished even higher on this list. Golden signed with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. The 49ers waived him, and he signed with Pittsburgh. He looked to be in line to play a significant role for the Steelers, but injuries took away his chance to do so. He's currently a free agent.

No. 3 - Garrett Taylor

  • 2015-2019
  • Career Statistics: 169 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 1 sack

Garrett Taylor was the latest in a line of Nittany Lions who have been converted to play safety. A four-star cornerback out of high school, Taylor redshirted his first season on campus due to a knee injury suffered in high school, but quickly carved out a role on special teams after that. When he took over the starting safety job in 2018, he quickly gained a reputation for being a sure tackler, which was something the defense desperately needed. Known for being an all-around safety, able to rush the passer, cover players deep, make sure tackles, and make big plays when the team needed them, he will be missed in 2020. Taylor will hope to be drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft.

No. 2 - Adrian Amos

  • 2011-2014
  • Career Statistics: 149 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 7 interceptions, 19 passes defended

Adrian Amos had a legitimate case to be both a top-five cornerback and top-five safety from the past decade. We limited his voting to safety in fairness to other candidates, but that's how good he was for Penn State. Amos' coverage skills and supreme athleticism made him a great fit for the safety position. Though it took a beat for him to get truly comfortable playing in his center field role, once it clicked, he shined. Easily the most prolific safety of the decade in terms of disrupting passes, Amos quickly became someone that teams would shy away from. None of this is to even mention the leadership he provided on the field. Amos was picked by Chicago in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He was named to the Pro Football Focus all-rookie team, and then to the PFF All-Pro team in 2017. He signed a four-year, $37 million free agent deal with Green Bay ahead of the 2019 season.

No. 1 - Marcus Allen

  • 2014-2017
  • Career Statistics: 320 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 interception, 5 forced fumbles, 1 safety

As if there was going to be anyone else atop this list. The three and a half-year starter was easily the most productive Penn State safety of the decade, and one who holds a special place in the hearts of all Nittany Lion fans. From picking up 11 tackles in his first start against Ohio State in 2014, to dancing to the Blue Band, to the most beautiful forced-safety anyone has ever seen, Allen spent four years endearing himself to everyone who loves Penn State. He was the perfect man to have helping to lead the defense during the transition time of James Franklin's arrival on campus. When the team experienced its renaissance in 2016, a big reason why was how close they were as a group. Allen was a big reason for that. Allen was chosen by Pittsburgh in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He ended this past season on the active roster for the Steelers.

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