SEC’s 10 best defensive tackles heading into spring practice


Spring position rankings:

The SEC says goodbye to its top two defensive tackles in Carolina’s Kelcy Quarles and Florida’s Dominique Easley. Still, 2014 will be the year of the sophomores at defensive tackle. This conference is loaded with some big-time players at the position.

Here are the top 10 returners for 2014, with an honorable mention included:

Honorable Mention: Montravius Adams, Auburn (SO)
10. Adam Butler, Vanderbilt (SO)
9. JT Surratt, South Carolina (SR)
8. Lucas Vincent, Missouri (SR)

Adam Butler had a very strong redshirt freshman season in 2013, and he made 25 tackles, six tackles for loss, one forced fumble and block two kicks. He’s a great looking young player…JT Surratt is the lone starter along the Carolina defensive line. Surratt made 33 tackles, four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and two QB hurries playing alongside Kelcy Quarles…Lucas Vincent had a strong junior campaign, making 34 tackles, five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and four QB hurries.

MORE: SEC Pre-Spring Power Rankings

7. Matt Hoch, Missouri (SR)
6. Isaac Gross, Ole Miss (JR)
5. Gabe Wright, Auburn (SR)

Matt Hoch is another Missouri returner who helped the Tigers have the SEC’s best defensive line in 2013. Hoch made 41 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, three QB hurries and one forced fumble…Isaac Gross may be undersized, but he’s quick as a cat on fire. He recorded 34 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last season…Gabe Wright enjoyed a breakout season in 2013 that saw him make 30 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks, along with nine QB hurries.

4. Darius Philon, Arkansas (SO)
3. Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (SO)
2. A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama (SO)

Darius Philon isn’t a household name outside of Fayetteville yet, but he put on a show as a redshirt freshman. Philon made 46 tackles, nine tackles for loss and three sacks, along with forcing two fumbles. He’s a big-time building block for the program…Robert Nkemdiche has the highest ceiling of any player on this ranking, and he even played some running back. The country’s former No.1 overall player lived up to the freshman hype, making 34 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks…A’Shawn Robinson could have played either offensive or defensive tackle, and he’s the nose guard Nick Saban covets. In backup time mostly, Robinson racked up 38 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Watch out for him this coming season.

RELATED: 10 SEC Spring football predictions

1. Chris Jones, Mississippi State (SO)

Chris Jones entered a five-star, and he, like several others, lived up to the hype. Jones made 32 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three sacks, along with 10 QB hurries. His athleticism and upside are matched by few.



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  • I have no problems with this list, all the guys on it are very talented. Chris Jones and Robert Nkemdiche have very similar stats, even though Nkemdiche got hurt and missed three games.

    • They have similar stats but playing time wasn’t even close. Rk played a lot more downs than Chris. Chris’ numbers would have been off the chart had he played the downs that rk did.

  • Great list. Chris is definitely better than Robert as I suspected.

  • This list is fine….Jones and Robinson matched Nkemdiche’s production as back ups for most of the season. Nkemdiche had an up and down season until the final three games when he came on strong. As an Ole Miss, fan I am just excited that we have two of the top 6 DT’s in the SEC. If Gross gains weight, they will be the best tandem in the league over the next two years.

  • Good for Chris, he’s a good guy and deserves to be number 1. My gf works with him at the athletic-academic center at Miss State and he’s a guy that works hard. Also, he is very funny haha.

  • Armyguy you need to just give up. 90 percent of what you post is wrong! I guess every player Ole Miss has is hurt. Bo fumbles and makes bad decisions because he was hurt. Nkemdiche did”nt produce because he was hurt …..but not so bad he could”nt punch a guy in the back of the head. I”m thinking next you”ll say Hugh Freeze lost the Egg Bowl because he was hurt.

  • Seriously I’m ok with all the other Ole Miss fans that comment on this site because they don’t make the most biased comments possible, but armyguy007 is the first to comment on everything and it always points out how the Ole Miss player isn’t high enough or Ole Miss isn’t getting enough love.

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