College Football's Most Feared Defensive Lines in America

Dan Vasta@CI_StatsGuruSenior Writer IIIAugust 9, 2012

College Football's Most Feared Defensive Lines in America

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    The SEC has won six BCS titles in a row, and many will argue it is all because of the overall speed and the ability to haul in the best recruits in the nation.

    However, the real truth is the ability to harass passers and dominate the opposition in the trenches. All of the past six BCS winners that were from the SEC had several star performers on their defensive lines that could not be blocked.

    All of the champions also had scary-good depth. Injuries are a part of the game, but only the strongest survive in college football.

    Looking at some of your top teams and players, here are your most feared defensive lines in college football. 

    Note: These ten are not ranked, just simply the ten best and most feared

Florida State

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    The two bookends are every bit as good as the Bayou Bengals' nasty duo because of their blend of size and speed.

    Backing that size and speed is filled with even greater potential and future talent, as 5-star recruits will look to see the field in mop-up duty.

    The names should be household ones already, but Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner are as deadly as it gets. Werner has the potential to become an early first-round pick, and Jenkins could as well (tremendous outside 3-4 or 4-3 linebacker).

    Those young backups include Mario Edwards (No. 1 rated player out of HS), Eddie Goldman (Washington, DC) and Chris Casher (Mobile, AL), who will likely become stars in the not so distant future.

    Throw in a former junior college transfer in Cornelius “Tank” Carradine, and this line off the edge is as ferocious as it gets.

    Lastly, do not forget about the talented beef they have up front. None would be bigger, better and more dominant than Timmy Jernigan. Jernigan is an explosive tackle (6’3, 300 lbs.) that can do it all, but Everett Dawkins is not too shabby adjacent to him either.

    Demonte McAllister and Anthony McCloud are respectable backups that just add to the depth, which happens to give them an edge as the best defensive line in the country, according to college football guru Phil Steele and others.


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    Sam Montgomery, Barkevious (Ki-Ki) Mingo, Anthony Johnson, Bennie Logan, Ego Ferguson, Lavar Edwards, Jermauria Rasco and Josh Downs form the deepest line in the nation.

    The two edge-rushers are the quickest in the country, as both have the talent to run faster than deer, and can hit you like a ton of bricks.

    Montgomery and Mingo are both coming off All-SEC First and Second Teams, respectively, but they are capable of capturing All-American statuses this season. 

    The difference between the Bayou Bengals and the rest of the country is their depth and nutrition because they never wear down, and their ability to produce their best ball in the fourth quarter allows them to tee off on even the best SEC competition.


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    Alex Okafor is coming off a sensational junior season in which he made the First Team All-Big 12 and even garnered an All-American status (AFCA).

    Okafor will be looking to pick it up in 2012 with the growth and development of perhaps an even better talent alongside him in Jackson Jeffcoat.

    Jeffcoat brings a similar body type and a terrific motor that is difficult to slow down. The interior of the line is solid with junior college transfer Brandon Moore and Ashton Dorsey, who had a solid sophomore campaign in which he registered six tackles for losses.

    The Horns also bring in one of the top high school tackles in the country Malcolm Brown (not to be confused with their starting tailback), but the star talent off the edges is what makes this Longhorn defense one of the nation’s best.

South Carolina

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    If I were an SEC quarterback and woke up from a nightmare in the middle of the night, certainly Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney would come to mind.

    We talk about all the killer combinations at defensive end, but there likely isn't one with a better set of skills than these two.

    The depth isn't the best in the country, but Clowney may not be taking too many breathers with Spurrier talking about using the sensational sophomore at middle linebacker.

    The interior of the line is the only thing perhaps preventing this defensive line from being the best, but the overall talent and capability is surely there with guys such as Kelcy Quarles, Aldrick Fordham and Byron Jerideau.

Ohio State

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    John Simon and Johnathan Hankins are two of the best linemen in the country, and the Big Ten better be wary of this Buckeyes defense.

    The defensive line is an athletic group that will be compared to SEC squads because of solid depth and the quickness it possesses

    Simon has been used in the interior at times, but Hankins might just be the best tackle in the country. Nathan Williams is a returning senior who is looking to stay healthy after getting hurt right out of the gates last year.

    Throw in Garrett Goebel alongside a few youngsters (Michael Bennett, Joel Hale), and Urban Meyer's first season should be a dandy thanks to the horses he has.


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    It should be illegal to have a front line that features two 350-pound behemoths!

    John Jenkins (6’6”, 351 lbs.) and Kwame Geathers (6’6”, 350 lbs.) are two of the best interior linemen in the SEC and beyond thanks to their ability to clog up the opposing offensive line—certainly, Jarvis Jones and the UGA linebackers make a big difference on this defense, too.

    Many should look for defensive end Abry Jones (20 QB hurries, four sacks, three tackles for losses) and Cornelius Washington (second on team in QB hurries with 29) to make that next step into becoming a tremendous duo.

    If they stay healthy, this front seven could be the best in college football.

Michigan State

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    The Spartans head into the Big Ten with the best defense, and it's all thanks to their defensive line.

    William Gholston is a premier NFL prospect entering his junior season, but Marcus Rush will soon become a star off the edge. 

    The two ends will get national recognition. Tyler Hoover and Anthony Rashad White should get some push up front (helps to have great LBs), and they'll need it to stay afloat with one of the tougher schedules in the conference.

    Boise State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska are legit programs heading into 2012, but they will all have their hands full with a fast and furious Sparty defensive line. 


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    For the Auburn Tigers to have a great season, it all starts with the pressure they will put on the opposition.

    Corey Lemonier had 15 quarterback hurries to go along with his 9.5 sacks, but his production may only get better with the growth and development of nose tackle Gabe Wright.

    Wright will see a ton of snaps, but Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter are going to start up front, with Nosa Eguae holding the other defensive end slot.

    The depth is absurd, and it will play a vital role in all of Auburn's heavyweight battles against the likes of Clemson, Mississippi State, LSU, Arkansas, Georgia and Alabama.

    Many are not looking at the Tigers to contend in the SEC West, but they will have their say since they are more than dominant enough up front to pull off a few upsets and perhaps reach the double-digit mark in victories after their bowl.


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    Jesse Williams is an All-SEC performer at defensive tackle, albeit he did not make the first team with the elite talent the conference has at defensive end.

    Still, the Tide's unit as a whole is one of the best in the country. Damion Square (six tackles for loss) and Ed Stinson are a legit pass-rushing combo.

    Plus, the depth on the outside with Quinton Dial and Jeoffrey Pagan will play a vital role in freeing up space for Williams.

    Yes, Nick Saban and Kirby Smart’s defense should once again strike fear in opposing SEC quarterbacks, as the defense will hardly take a dip.


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    The Gators defense will be exceptional with Will Muschamp hauling in the top recruits in the country, but the ones that Urban Meyer landed are officially developed and ready to become All-Americans.

    Many are banking on an October return from Ronald Powell, but even without the junior, the Gators are as loaded as any squad out there.

    Lerentee McCray, Dominique Easley, Sharrif Floyd and Omar Hunter are four hog mollies one should never mess with.

    They are more than quick enough to track you down in their sleep, but opposing SEC quarterbacks better be wary of their frightening athleticism too (the depth is scary as well with Damien Jacobs, Dante Fowler, Gideon Ajagbe, Earl Okine).

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