Published August 15, 2012 - 9:41am
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We’ve seen three players who will elevate their game in the West. Now, lets take see who is ready to take their game to the next level from the East:
Jon Bostic, LB, Florida (SR): Jon Bostic is the best linebacker in the SEC not to get any recognition. He’s a fourth-year senior who came to Florida as an Urban Meyer-heralded recruit and will finish under Will Muschamp’s regime. Bostic led the Gators with 94 total tackles last year, 10 tackles-for-loss and three sacks. But no one has ever heard of him before. Bostic will man the middle for the Gators’ attack at linebacker. Towards the end of last year, you could really see the light switch flip on for Bostic, because he was playing aggressively and with an edge. I see Bostic elevating his game this year to be an All-SEC linebacker for Florida.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (SO): The athletic specimen of a defensive end will indeed elevate his game to new heights this season. As a freshman, he made 36 total tackles, 12 tackles-for-loss, 8.0 sacks and five forced fumbles, but he was overshadowed by his own teammate, Melvin Ingram. Ingram is gone, and Clowney will share the spotlight with Devin Taylor. But we haven’t even scraped the surface of how good this kid will be. Steve Spurrier alluded to moving Clowney around on defense to play some middle linebacker in certain sets. At 6-6, 260 pounds, Clowney can certainly run like a linebacker with defensive end speed.
AJ Johnson, LB, Tennessee (SO): While Clowney got the most pub as a freshman, AJ Johnson had a very good season of his own. The consensus freshman All-American was second on the team in tackles (80) and had 4.5 tackles-for-loss. Johnson has trimmed his fat this off-season and transformed his body into a big human being, all the while staying agile, with the ability to make tackles in one-on-one situations. He looks more like a defensive end than a linebacker, but he’ll be very key in Sal Sunseri’s new 3-4 defensive scheme this year. The SEC will all take note of AJ Johnson this year for the Vols.