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.
53. Gabe Wright, Sr., DL, Auburn
The SEC’s loaded at defensive tackle and Auburn’s burly senior is among the best, a late bloomer for the Tigers who exploded with new-found confidence down the stretch last fall. Wright solidified a full-time job in Ellis Johnson’s flexible 4-2-5 early in the season before starting the final 10 games for the West champs and earning an all-league honorable mention.
A noticeably slimmer Wright, down 15 pounds to 285, alternated positions up front this spring with improved quickness thanks to Tigers strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell. The plan was for Wright to lose excess fat and replace it with muscle this summer so that the hybrid defender can be even stronger by Auburn’s opener. Defensive line coach Rodney Garner says he still wants Wright to play most snaps inside and expects him to do so during fall camp.
Led by Wright, Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson, Auburn will have quite the freak show up front this season in defense of its second conference championship since 2010.
2013 statistics: 31 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 3 sacks
2014 projection: 39 tackles, 7 TFL, 4.5 sacks
Photo Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports