10 Uncommitted Defenders Who Are Locks to Sign with an SEC Program
The SEC is known for defense, as every program in the conference goes hard after talented defenders on the recruiting trail. The 2015 class has no shortage of elite defensive prospects, and many of them will sign up to stop SEC offenses.
A 5-star defensive tackle's recruitment could come down to Auburn versus Georgia, while a linebacker in Texas will likely end up at Alabama or Texas A&M.
Also, a pair of defensive ends could decide to play together at Florida.
Roquan Smith, OLB
A 4-star outside linebacker from Georgia, Roquan Smith is a versatile second-level defender who can simply run. The Peach State native definitely has the speed to fit in the SEC.
Smith is only 6'2" and 205 pounds, but he has good toughness at the point of attack when challenged by blockers. He sprints to the ball hard in pursuit, plus he has the speed to run with tight ends and running backs in coverage.
Auburn, Georgia and Alabama are his top suitors, according to 247Sports.
Ethan Burch of Scout.com wrote on April 8, "Georgia is all over Smith. He talks to the Dawgs four to five times every week through Twitter and other outlets."
Natrez Patrick, DE
Natrez Patrick is a 4-star defender who can play defensive end and outside linebacker. He's from Atlanta, so many SEC programs are after him.
Patrick, who is 6'3" and 220 pounds, is explosive at the snap. He can charge upfield with quickness to get around blockers on the edge, plus he has the athleticism to drop into coverage underneath. Patrick would be a good fit in a 3-4 defense.
Georgia, Alabama and Auburn are in the hunt, says 247Sports.
Rashad Roundtree, S
At 6'1" and 195 pounds, Rashad Roundtree can bring a lot to a secondary. He is an athletic safety who is equally effective versus the run and pass.
Roundtree is from Georgia, and he is a 4-star recruit. He works with solid vision on top of the defense, plus he gets out of transition well when breaking on balls. Roundtree also has the toughness to play inside the box, and things usually don't end well for running backs when he does.
It would a surprise if he didn't sign with Georgia, but Auburn has a chance, per 247Sports.
Jamal Peters, S
A big safety at 6'3" and 200 pounds, Jamal Peters may end up lining up at outside linebacker in college. The Mississippi native has terrific ball-location skills when playing in the box, and he also hits with a lot of force.
Peters has solid athletic ability in space. He displays good speed when sprinting to attack passes, and he could contribute on special teams as a true freshman. Alabama, Ole Miss, Auburn and Mississippi State are thick in the mix, according to 247Sports.
Jeffery Holland, OLB
Jeffery Holland plays like a 3-4 outside linebacker right now, but he has the skills to be fine as a linebacker in a 4-3 scheme.
Holland is 6'2" and 230 pounds, and he has outstanding speed. He locates the ball quickly at the snap, then attacks. Holland can sift through trash, but he also has the strength to strike and shed blockers at the point of attack.
He exhibits a natural surge to finish on the ball. Florida or Auburn will sign the 4-star Florida native next February.
Byron Cowart, DE
A 5-star defender from Florida, Byron Cowart can do just about everything on the edge. He's a talented defensive end who can anchor versus running plays at the point of attack.
Plus, the 6'4", 250-pounder has the strength to shed and make stops at the line. Cowart also has the quickness to jump on top of offensive linemen as a pass-rusher. Don't be surprised if he grows into a defensive tackle before he leaves college.
While Oregon has a solid chance, Cowart has Florida, Alabama and Auburn among his top schools, says 247Sports.
Daron Payne, DT
At 6'2" and 316 pounds, Daron Payne is a mammoth defensive tackle from Alabama who exceptional strength. Payne also plays with above-average technique, evidenced by his willingness to use his hands as weapons.
Payne has adequate quickness at the snap, and he fights through blocks with power. He can anchor to make a mess in the middle versus running plays; however, the 5-star recruit could be best suited as a defensive end in a 3-4 alignment.
Texas is in the mix, per 247Sports, but this race will come down to Auburn versus Alabama.
CeCe Jefferson, DE
CeCe Jefferson is an explosive 5-star defensive end who can play defensive tackle on passing downs. He is 6'2" and 250 pounds, plus he is even capable of playing standing up as an outside linebacker.
The Florida native has a good combination of quickness and strength. He strikes well at the point of attack, but Jefferson can also bend around the perimeter of the pocket and get flat to surge on the quarterback.
It would be a huge shock if he didn't sign with Florida.
Malik Jefferson, OLB
Athletic, agile, fast, smart and strong are just a few words that can be used to describe Malik Jefferson. The 5-star outside linebacker hails from Texas, and he is one of the top overall prospects in America.
Jefferson can play outside linebacker in both a 3-4 and 4-3. His range is terrific, plus he is comfortable in space. He has great vision and ball skills and could prove to be outstanding in coverage in college with better coaching.
Alabama and Texas A&M are his top schools, according to 247Sports.
Trent Thompson, DT
At 6'4" and 292 pounds, Trent Thompson makes things happen in the trenches. He's a classic gap penetrator who uses quickness and athleticism to menace offensive fronts.
The Georgia native also has good strength to hold his ground and anchor at the point of attack. Thompson can overwhelm blockers with his explosiveness at the snap, plus he has exceptional short-area quickness to close on ball-carriers.
Georgia, Auburn and Alabama are among his main suitors, says 247Sports.