SEC Football: 10 Defenders SEC QBs Need to Fear the Most in 2013
Some of the most resilient football players in the country are SEC quarterbacks.
Every season SEC quarterbacks are blasted by opposing defenders, as some of the best pass-rush specialists in the country reside in the conference. Heading into this season, there are 10 players that signal-callers are already watching film on.
These defenders will be ones to watch closely heading into the fall. Fireworks follow their bone-chilling hits, and quarterbacks cringe when these guys turn the edge.
Dominique Easley, DE, Florida Gators
Dominique Easley was a star in the Florida defense before he fell to a knee injury against Florida State in 2011.
He returned to the fold in 2012 and had a modest season, but he is looking to have a much more explosive 2013.
Easley chose to return to Florida for his senior season and is bringing a lot of hype with him. Entering this fall, he will be one of the most feared defenders along the defensive line in the SEC East.
Dee Ford, DE, Auburn Tigers
Dee Ford is one of the most explosive defensive ends in the SEC heading into the fall, and he is looking to finally put together a full season on the Plains.
Since arriving at Auburn and hitting the field, nagging back injuries have limited Ford’s playing time.
He is a rising senior for 2013 and is one of the leaders for the Tigers along the defensive line. Ford is a workhorse in the weight room who brings unstoppable effort on every play.
He finished 2012 with six sacks in 11 games. He has the talent to double that figure this year.
Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia Bulldogs
Jordan Jenkins is Georgia’s new Jarvis Jones.
Jones jumped to the NFL after 2012, leaving the door open for reserve linebacker Jenkins to step in. Last season as a freshman, Jenkins contributed to the Bulldogs defense and looked the part of a starter.
Jenkins played in 14 games and finished with five sacks and eight tackles for loss. He will improve on those numbers exponentially this fall and become a star for the Georgia offense.
Opposing quarterbacks will hate facing this guy for the next three seasons.
Chase Garnham, LB, Vanderbilt Commodores
Chase Garnham is one of the premier defenders on the Commodores defense heading into the 2013 season.
Garnham finished 2012 with 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He is a rising senior that has been a major piece of the rise in Nashville over the past few seasons.
The Commodores needed a leader after the departure of Chris Marve two years ago, and Garnham has filled the role extremely well.
He is the most underrated blitzing linebacker in the conference, which will show this year against conference foes.
Denico Autry, DE, Mississippi State Bulldogs
Denico Autry was a JUCO transfer for the Bulldogs last fall and instantly became a household name for the program.
Autry finished 2012 with 9.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He also had 42 total tackles.
This is the player on the verge of a breakout season. Autry is a 6’5”, 255-pound defender that used last season to transition into the SEC.
He will be on a tear this fall and should finish as one of the nastiest defenders in the league by season's end.
C.J. Johnson, DE, Ole Miss Rebels
C.J. Johnson is as explosive of a defender as there is in the SEC and has become a vital part of the Ole Miss defense over the past two years.
He showed up to Oxford as a linebacker but was promptly moved to defensive end out of necessity. He has been on a tear through the SEC and will continue that quest this fall.
He finished 2012 with eight tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.
The addition of stud recruit Robert Nkemdiche to the team will make Johnson more free to roam opponent’s backfields over the next two years.
This is a dangerous defender who will help Ole Miss continue the climb out of the SEC basement.
Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas Razorbacks
Chris Smith was one of the highlights of the Razorbacks' season last year.
Smith finished the season with 52 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. He chose to return for a senior season and is expected to be a conference leader at defensive end.
This is one of the Razorbacks' defensive leaders, and it was huge to land his pledge to return for a senior season.
First-year coach Bret Bielema’s defense will be much better off with Smith jumping off the edge this fall.
Alvin Dupree, LB, Kentucky Wildcats
The Kentucky Wildcats struggled to find anything positive from last year’s 2-10 season, but Alvin Dupree was one of them.
Dupree finished 2012 with 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He also had one pass breakup and 91 total tackles.
The Wildcats need leaders on defense, and incoming head coach Mark Stoops loves smashmouth-minded defenders. Dupree fits that mold well.
Expect Dupree to excel under the new staff and become one of the leading linebackers in the SEC by season’s end.
Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama Crimson Tide
Adrian Hubbard is one of the beasts that roam the middle third of the Alabama defense.
Hubbard is a 6’6”, 248-pound bruiser at linebacker for the Crimson Tide, and he finished the 2012 season as one of the best linebackers in the country.
His 2012 effort produced 11 tackles for loss, seven sacks and four quarterback hurries. He will look to increase those numbers this coming fall as a rising junior.
Having a surrounding cast of returning starters will help balance the load for Hubbard, and he should be able to unleash on opposing quarterbacks consistently on Saturdays this fall.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina Gamecocks
Jadeveon Clowney is the most feared defender in the SEC, and arguably the country.
Last year he de-cleated a Michigan running back in the Outback Bowl, sending chills down the spines of every fan in attendance.
Clowney is a top talent that finished 2012 with 23.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and five quarterback hurries.
Heading into the new season, he is expected to be the best defensive end in the game. He has unbelievable power and speed off of the edge and will have quarterbacks ducking from shadows when they face off with the Gamecocks this fall.