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Ranking the SEC’s top 10 defensive linemen of the BCS era

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Finally, we get to the position the SEC is known for – fast and physical defensive linemen. It’s a permanent imprint of the SEC in the BCS era, because the conference has dominated in championship games, namely for dominant defensive linemen.

Here are the SEC’s top 10 defensive linemen during the BCS era:

1. David Pollack, DE, Georgia (2001-04)
Notable stats: 36 sacks, 58 TFL, 117 QBH, 18 PBU, 4 INTs
Skinny: Pollack may not have been the most talented D-lineman to come through the BCS era, but his motor never stopped. The two-time SEC Player of the Year was also a three-time first-team All-SEC and three-time first-team All-American. He racked up a Georgia record 36 sacks, along with 58 tackles for loss, and I can still see his 0-yard INT for TD against South Carolina.

2. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU (2004-07)
Notable stats: 15 sacks, 27 TFL
Skinny: Dorsey was a man-beast at tackle for the Tigers. The hometown kid helped lead the Tigers to the 2007 national championship, along with winning the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Dorsey was a two-time All-SEC and first-team All-American. He won the Lombardi Award, Nagurski Trophy, Outland Trophy and the Lott Trophy.

3. John Henderson, DT, Tennessee (1998-2001)
Notable stats: 20.5 sacks, 165 tackles
Skinny: Big John Henderson was a consensus All-American in 2000-01, as well as a first-team All-SEC performer. Henderson won the Outland Trophy in ‘00, and his 20.5 sacks and 165 total tackles are just ridiculous for a tackle. Henderson and Albert Haynesworth were dominant.

4. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (2011-present)
Notable stats: 21 sacks, 35.5 TFL
Skinny: Clowney has more physical talent than every single player on this list, but let’s not crown him ‘the best’ yet. His 21 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss in two seasons alone are crazy, but his ceiling is so much higher. Clowney was the SEC Freshman of the Year in ‘11 and the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore. The fans named him AT&T’s All-American Player of the Year in ‘12, and the media named him a unanimous All-American. Can he make the jump to No. 1 in 2013? I hope we get to see Clowney’s best.

Related: Ranking the SEC’s 10-best DEs for 2013

5. Alex Brown, DE, Florida (1998-2001)
Notable stats: 161 tackles, 47 TFL, 33 sacks
Skinny: After being redshirted his freshman season, Brown blew into a pass rushing giant for the Gators. He was a first-team All-SEC star in 1999-01 and a first-team All-American in ‘99 and ‘01. Brown became the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2001. His illustrious career was summed up in a five-sack performance against Tennessee in 1999. ‘Brown sacked Martin again’ became an overnight sensation, after the Gators upset the No. 2-ranked Vols 23-21.

6. Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama (2008-09)
Notable stats: 51 tackles, 10.5 TFL, .5 sacks, 2 blocked FGs
Skinny: Cody was truly a mountain of a man, and he only played two years for the Tide. But he controlled the middle for Nick Saban’s defense. After being a JUCO All-American, Saban turned him into All-SEC and All-American tackle. Cody’s stats aren’t smack-you-in-the-face good, but he dominated the interior line for the Tide. He helped lead Bama to a national championship in 2009.

7. Chad Lavalais, DT, LSU (2000-03)
Notable stats: 202 tackles, 12 sacks, 10 PD
Skinny: Lavalais was the driving force behind the Tigers’ 2003 national championship and was a consensus All-American, All-SEC and National Defensive Player of the year. He appeared in nine games as a freshman and started 41 career games. Lavalais was a finalist for both the Nagurski and the Outland Trophies. He helped lead the Tigers’ defense that was first in scoring and total defense.

8. Richard Seymour, DT, Georgia (1997-2000)
Notable stats: 223 tackles, 26 TFL, 10 sacks
Skinny: Seymour is one of the most dominant D-linemen to ever play at Georgia. He filled the middle of the defensive line for four years and registered 25 career starts. Despite playing tackle, Seymour was a tackling machine, leading Georgia with 74 in 1999. He was a first-team All-American in 2000 and two-time first-team All-SEC performer in 1999 and 2000. And we know the player he blew into once he hit the NFL scene.

9. John Abraham, DE, South Carolina (1996-99)
Notable stats: 23.5 sacks
Skinny: Nicknamed ‘The Predator’, Abraham was a menace for Gamecocks’ opponents, while being on some truly bad teams. He led Carolina in sacks four years, and his game really blew up in the NFL. Clowney will pass Abraham on SC’s all-time sack list early in the season.

10. Marcus Spears, DE, LSU (2001-2004)
Notable stats: 19 sacks, 34.5 TFL
Skinny: Spears played both tight end and defensive end as a freshman before blowing into an All-American end. Spears capped his career off in grand style as the anchor for the Tigers’ No. 3-ranked defense in the nation, recording 17 tackles for loss and nine sacks as a senior.





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Comments 27

  1. Solid list again. I think Florida’s Jevon Kearse got to play at least one season during the BCS era. Alabama’s Marcell Dareus is one of the highest draft picks in school history. Tennessee’s Albert Haynesworth was a 1st round draft pick, as was Auburn’s Nick Fairley. And one more former 1st round selection – Tennessee’s Shaun Ellis.

  2. I would venture to guess this list has been the most difficult to rank thus far. Just a thought: Could you imagine if Clowney had Pollack’s motor?
    I just had to plug in a new keyboard because the last one melted after I typed that previous sentence.

    • Haha. Yeah, it was pretty tough. The QB list was equally as tough. All the positions are tough, because there are so many former talents to come through the BCS era. It’s insane.

    • Pollack was good at UGA, but his arrogant attitude on ESPN has caused me to despise him every time I see him on Gameday or calling a game. I’d venture to say that next year at this time Clowney will easily top this list. And in response to Dawg780, could you imagine if Pollack would’ve had Clowney’s talent?

  3. Great List…I would flip flop 2 AND 3

  4. Are you going to do special teams player as well??

  5. This isn’t a true top ten list without Nick Fairley being on it. He’s the best defensive tackle in the SEC in the last ten years. This list is ridiculous! It’s absurd to have Pollack as #1.

    • Oh, come one. Fairley had one good season. With the exception of Cody, the rest of the top 10 had massive careers. Pollacks numbers are stupid good, and that’s coming from a Gator fan.

      • HMM, How did Pollack do in the pros again? Fairley was a juco transfer who had the best year of any player on this list. Auburn doesn’t win the national championship without him. Can you say that about any other player on this list?

        • Oh, we’re talking about the pros? No, we’re talking about CFB. Pollack injured his neck and was unable to play anymore. Does that qualify as a bust? Nope. And Auburn doesn’t win a championship without Cam Newton, not Nick Fairley.

        • MadGators, The only thing worse than your picture is your judgment. Obviously, the only time you’ve ever been through Gainesville was on a bus, which makes the rest of this disagreement pointless.

        • There you go getting all personal on me. And you’re welcome for Cam Newton. Can’t we just all get along?

        • HAHA Ok, Didn’t we trade Muschamp for Cam??

        • A neck injury ended Pollack’s Career you douchebag…and last time I checked ya boy Fairley didnt have a starting job.

        • This guy has no idea what he’s talking about – clearly has no knowledge of SEC football history prior to 2010. Pollack’s sacks and TFLs eclipse those of all the others on this list, and other than Clowney the others at the top were 4 year letterman (so you can’t make the argument that his stats are inflated by playing more seasons). And in contrast to Fairly, who is generally regarded as a pompous, dirty thug, Pollack is widely known as being one of the truly great and well respected guys to play in the SEC.

    • Bahahaha…Absurd he says! Nick Fairley is a classless thug…Pollack dominated the sec and has the records to prove it.

      • JP Dawg, Are you a Georgia fan simply because you were born in the state? You obviously didn’t graduate from UGA.

        • Bahahaha….I’m sorry I didn’t realize that was a requirement for being a fan of a team, nor do I feel the need to prove anything to a guy named Benji…who likely went to Jack State for a semester and tells everyone he’s an Auburn Grad…what a Blowhard.

        • No, I was just going off your grammar. Never argue with an idiot. He will bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.

    • Benji, I just don’t agree with anything you’ve said on here. Also not sure why you are so defensive. Does it really matter that much? If you think it’s ridiculous to have Pollack #1 you are either being way too biased or you may only be 20 years old and never really saw him play. Fairley was good for that one season, everyone will agree to that

      • I’m rather curious as to where JPDawgFan’s grammar was so blatantly offensive to this Benji guy. Is it because he used “Probly” or “ya”? If this is the case then I should inform you that his shortcuts have nothing to do with grammar. I’m sure that he knows the correct spellings of both words, but chose to use these spelling shortcuts, so your grammar critique is not valid. Dumbass.

  6. No, I didn’t think you were. Just wanted you to look at it from a different perspective.