SEC’s top 25 players of 2013: No. 19 Ole Miss’ Denzel Nkemdiche

SDS is continually counting down the top 25 players in the SEC for 2013, and we’re not stopping until we get to No. 1. I know you’ll agree with every single one…

No. 19 – Denzel Nkemdiche, LB, Ole Miss (SO)

2012 stats: 82 tackles, 13 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 INTs, 5 PBU, 3 QBH, 4 FF
2013 Projected stats: 85 tackles, 15 TFL, 5 sacks, 3 INTs

Why he’s worthy: Boy, is the SEC loaded with tons of talent for 2013. Denzel Nkemdiche had one of the best years of any SEC player last year, much less as a freshman, and he’s only ranked at No. 19? I may have some questions to answer come December.

From zero-star recruit to one of the top linebackers in the country, Nkemdiche has quite the story to tell. He redshirted his freshman year under Houston Nutt and blossomed under Hugh Freeze. So, who does he have to thank more? Himself, because he’s worked his tail off and developed his game to become the player he is.

Nkemdiche isn’t the strongest or the biggest cat out there. He’s only listed at 5-11, 205 pounds, barely the size of most safeties, but he brings the slammer hammer upon impact. Four forced fumbles tells a story of their own. He’s so much fun to watch fly all over the field, and he’s not your typical linebacker, for sure.

He racked up team-highs in tackles (82), tackles for loss (13), tied for INTs (3) and led the team in forced fumbles (4). Every single stat line jumps out across the board, especially the INTs and forced fumbles.

I expect Nkemdiche to have another big year in Oxford, and I do expect the Rebels now-veteran defense to take on more of Nkemdiche’s personality and identity and adapt his mean-streak attitude for the 2013 season.

You want to watch someone play with a chip on his shoulder? Nkemdiche is your guy.

The Countdown:

1.  Biggest freak in college football
2.  Johnny what’s his name?
3.  Best running back in college football
4.  The biggest winner in the rankings
5.  College football’s No. 2 overall running back
6.  A record-setting QB
7.  The Tide’s defensive glue
8.  The best offensive tackle in college football?
9.  Alabama’s O-line anchor
10. Texas A&M’s versatile left tackle
11. The biggest deep threat in the country?
12. Florida’s dancing defender
13. One LB who should explode in 2013
14. Jarvis Jones who?
15. The SEC East’s top receiver
16. Florida’s Honey Badger
17. A receiver who doesn’t drop passes…ever
18. LSU’s freak
19. A Rebel who knows he’s good
20. Funny name; not a funny game
21. Arkansas’ O-line anchor
22. A receiving freak
23. An underrated Tennessee head smasher
24. LSU’s defensive quarterback
25. An unheralded Hog

Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE