2014 SEC Top 100 Countdown: No. 59 Issac Gross, Ole Miss

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.

59. Issac Gross, Jr., DT, Ole Miss

A member of the coaches’ All-SEC freshman team in 2012 with 10 tackles for loss, Gross started fewer games as a second-year player last fall but his production didn’t dip like you’d expect with fewer snaps up front. When he’s on the field, Gross is a consistent headache at the line of scrimmage and despite being undersized compared to most SEC nose tackles at 250 pounds, routinely slithers his way past lumbering guards to make stops in the backfield.

The durable run-stopper’s accumulated 19 tackles-for-loss over his first two seasons and is trying to elevate his game as a two-gap threat. Teammate Woodrow Hamilton is a higher-rated future draft choice thanks to a 6-3, 310-pound frame, but Gross has been the more agile and productive player thus far at the same position.

It isn’t likely that a 3.5-sack total will lead the Rebels like it did last fall, but the combination of the Batesville, Miss., native’s grit and determination is essential toward freeing up outside pass rushers like Robert Nkemdiche and the defense’s overall strength at the point of attack.

2013 statistics: 34 tackles, 2 FR, 3.5 sacks, 9 TFL
2014 projection: 38 tackles, 3 sacks, 10 TFL

Photo Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports