SEC’s 10 best linebackers heading into spring practice

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Georgia

Spring position rankings:

The SEC says goodbye to one of the top linebackers in college football in Alabama’s CJ Mosley. Mosley was the Butkus Award for the country’s top linebacker.

However, linebacker will become one of the SEC’s strongest positions in 2014 with very talented returners. Players like LSU’s Kwon Alexander, Texas A&M’s Darian Claiborne and Vanderbilt’s Darreon Herring just missed the cut.

This is truly a loaded position for the SEC in 2014, and here are the top 10 returners:

10. Skai Moore, South Carolina (SO)
9. Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (JR)
8. Jordan Jenkins, Georgia (JR)

Skai Moore was an absolute baller for South Carolina during his freshman season. He led the team in tackles (56) and INTs (4), and he just has amazing instincts and incredible athleticism. I love the way this kid plays!…Denzel Nkemdiche didn’t have the 2013 he wanted, but he’s put two strong back-to-back seasons together. Yes, he’s had some legal issues and questions, but he’s a big-time player who has a nose for the football. He was an All-American in 2012, and he fought through a knee injury in 2013…Jordan Jenkins probably hasn’t been the monster we all thought he would be…yet. However, he should have a big year in Jeremy Pruitt’s defense. Jenkins made 45 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks, along with 23 QB hurries last season.

MORE: SEC Pre-Spring Power Rankings

7. Leonard Floyd, Georgia (SO)
6. Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn (JR)
5. Serderius Bryant, Ole Miss (SR)

Leonard Floyd will be a monster in Jeremy Pruitt’s new defense. He’s long, lean and very mean off the edge, and he made 55 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and 22 QB hurries in his freshman season. Look out!…Cassanova McKinzy was the Tigers’ leader at linebacker. He made 75 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks en route to a strong sophomore season…Serderius Bryant seemingly came out of nowhere in 2013, leading the Rebels’ defense in tackles. He may be slightly undersized, but he has a nose for the football. He made 78 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and three sacks during his junior season

4. Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State (JR)
3. AJ Johnson, Tennessee (SR)
2. Trey DePriest, Alabama (SR)

Benardrick McKinney passed up the NFL to return to MSU for his junior season, and he’s probably the best player you still have never heard of. McKinney made 71 tackles last year after making 102 in 2012 as a freshman. He’s a future NFL player…AJ Johnson is the weathered veteran of the Vols’ defense. Yes, he’s good, but there’s a whole lot more he can improve upon. He’s racked up two straight 100-tackle seasons, and he’s ready to help take the Vols’ defense to another level in 2014…Trey DePriest now takes over the reins of the Alabama defense, and he’s had a great three-year career. Specifically in 2013, DePriest made 65 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles. Nick Saban will rely on DePriest so much more in 2014.

RELATED: 10 SEC Spring football predictions

1. Ramik Wilson, Georgia (SR)

Ramik Wilson had a fabulous year in 2013, leading the SEC in tackles, and he’s coming back for his senior season. Wilson led the SEC with 133 tackles, including 11 for loss and four sacks. He leads a very talented linebacking corps for the Bulldogs this spring.

Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • I’ll go ahead and add what Armyguy007 is going to say. Denzel should be #1 he is the best linebacker in the nation but he didn’t have as good of a season because he was injured.

    • See, you just saved him a lot of time typing that out. Who says you guys are rivals?

    • Are you a complete idiot BBbulldog? Why would I say that Denzel is the best LB? He is a solid and reliable LB, but not the best. I understand why MSU fans are so ignorant, but please think before you type.

      • He’s predicting that because that’s what you usually do on these type of articles.

      • How can you say I’m ignorant when all you do is post biased comments on this website. Please use rational thinking on this website.

        • BirminghamBulldog, in his defense, he’s usually pretty spot on if you go back through and read his comments. Bo Wallace is actually a damn fine QB. I would take him any day over Dak. Check the stats. They don’t lie. Robert was out and was playing injured. Once again a true statement.. Realize that his opinion, while it may be biased, is actually pretty close to accurate because they are backed by FACTS and Jon and the SDS crew would tend to agree with him on certain situations. I realize that numbers aren’t MSU grads strong suit, but maybe you can understand this one: 61-43-6

        • Wait…what? Bo Wallace is a Damn fine QB? Better than Prescott? Did you watch that game?

        • JP, you can’t reasonably take one game of a player’s season and say that it defines him as a QB… If so, lord only knows what we could say about some of Murray’s games (i.e. GA vs USC in 2012)

        • If you think Bo Wallace is “a damn fine quarterback” I seriously have nothing to say to you.

        • Thanks ALTRebel86. I maybe a little bias, but I do try and be rational. Bo Wallace is a good QB, whatever any idiot on here may think. Just ask LSU how good he can be. He has had a few games that he didn’t play well in, but other than that there is a reason he threw for over 3,000 yards last season. I understand that a lot of ppl on here have no clue what they are talking about and are a lot more bias than me.

          One LB that is going to be really good is DT Shackelford. He will be playing MLB this season for Ole Miss. He moved from DE.

  • It makes one realize just how bad our secondary was last year when we had these kind of LBs and much-improved DL play. If Pruitt is half as good as his reputation says, he’ll be twice as good as Grantham.

    • Ya gotta be jacked about this new staff coming in and inheriting this kind of talent. The competition that will be going on in camp will undoubtedly pay dividends on Saturdays this fall.

  • I can’t believe what I’m reading here….Bo Wallace a good QB???? Just ask LSU ???? and you called BirminghamBulldog an idiot. Let me type this slowww so you can read it…..Ole Miss DID NOT beat LSU. LSU’s QB beat LSU. Zack threw 5 yes 5 INT’S in the first half you can’t come back from that. As far as Armyguy being spot on…..let me sell you some prime swampland here in Mississippi.

  • Georgia has 3 of the best linebackers in the SEC huh? Their defense must have been great last year….or not. Another joke list.

    • Georgia’s problem was not the linebackers. It was the terrible secondary. Who else would be a top 10 linebacker in the SEC that wasn’t mentioned above? That’s fine if you think Georgia doesn’t have three, but at least bring a name to the table on who you would add.

  • I think Amarlo Herrera deserves at least honorable mention. 3rd in the SEC with 112 tackles deserves that.

  • 133 tackles is impressive! …..but me being bias.. I’m still going DePriest

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