SDS talent evaluators Jon Cooper and Brad Crawford spent several months breaking down last year’s highlights, incoming talent and projected 2014 impact following spring practice to compile a list of the SEC’s Top 100 players heading into fall. Athletes were selected by position then ranked overall counting down to No. 1.
Stick with SDS throughout summer and get in on the action using the hashtag #SDSTop100 as we unveil a new player daily leading up to opening night on Aug. 28.
89. Adam Butler, Soph., DT, Vanderbilt
Defensive-minded first-year coach Derek Mason has his hands full replacing four productive senior starters in the Vanderbilt secondary, but the return of Butler, a luxurious sophomore defensive tackle who’s likely the Commodores’ best defensive player, softens the blow a bit for a program gunning for its third consecutive nine-win season — and beyond.
Butler is Vandy’s most important piece up front, a 6-4, 300-pounder who made the transition from offensive line to the other side of the ball after his redshirt season with noteworthy results. As a freshman, Butler adjusted on the fly inside at tackle, starting five games with 25 stops. Still developing and growing accustomed to his new title as ‘leader’, Butler had a great spring and brings optimism to a team that will be predicted to finish in the bottom half of the SEC East.
Vandy’s ascension into relevancy will continue as long as players like Butler seize their opportunity on what promises to be a hard-nosed defense directed by David Kotulski, Mason’s Stanford assistant who worked primarily with linebackers.
2013 statistics: 25 tackles, 6 TFL
2014 projection: 35 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2 sacks
Photo Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports