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SEC’s most improved for 2013: Which D-lineman will take his game to the next level?

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Every single year, players emerge after a mediocre showing and burst on to the scene, and we’re left saying, ‘I should have seen it coming’. So, let’s get a head start on the most improved defensive linemen for 2013.

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Most Improved Defensive Lineman: Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU (JR)

2012 Stats: 30 tackles, 10 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 QBH

The Story: LSU’s Freak is a New Orleans prep football legend who signed with the Tigers as a can’t-miss five-star tackle and the No. 1 overall DT in the 2011 recruiting class. He played in all 14 games as a freshman and sophomore, but he’s logged just three starts in his short career. That may have more to do with LSU’s consistent NFL-caliber defensive line than Anthony Johnson actually living up to the hype. Johnson has combined for 42 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 4 sacks in two seasons. His numbers almost mirror former All-American Glenn Dorsey, who combined for 46 tackles and three sacks in his first two years.

Why he will improve the most: It’s his time, and he’s the next elite defensive linemen to come through LSU. The Tigers always have that one player on defense every year who tends to set the trend and the attitude of the defense. Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Kevin Minter come to mind. Now, it’s Johnson’s turn. In what will be his first real year of being an every-game starter, he’s ready to become elite. His 6-3, 295-pound frame oozes potential, and he’s coming off his best spring that saw him mature as a player. His 4.7 40 should terrorize SEC O-linemen.

Others to watch:

Caleb Azubike, DE, Vanderbilt (SO): Azubike is ready to take his game to the next level, and he’s been terrorizing the O-line during preseason practice. He registered four sacks – a freshman school record – in 2012, as well as 21 total tackles, including 4.5 for loss. Watch out for this hidden gem in 2013.

Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky (JR): Dupree is moving to defensive end under Mark Stoops’ new scheme. He’s played mostly OLB the first two years, combining for 112 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and nine sacks. UK’s D-line will lead the defense, and there’s enough talent around Dupree to where teams can’t double team him every play. Look for Dupree to have a big junior season.

Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina (JR): All the talk surrounds Jadeveon Clowney, but tackle Kelcy Quarles is the real deal. He’s notched 66 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in two seasons, and with so much attention on Clowney, expect Quarles and fellow DE Chaz Sutton to have strong seasons.

Photo Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE





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Comment 1

  1. I think Jon is right to leave all Missouri’s d-linemen off this list, but I want to say this. Missouri will not be missing Sheldon Richardson this year. The reason is not hype material but it’s a fact that every position or man on the line is improved. Plus there is another contender for starting and this one fresh horse could make the whole line 4th quarter proof (check the 2012 MO v GA game). Look for this line to bat down numerous passes, have very few penalties, hold form, have just enough sack power to be contenders, surpass last year’s line as fumble hounds