We’ve reached the Top 20 of our Top 100 SEC players list and will unveil a new player daily leading up to opening night on Aug. 28.

19. A.J. Johnson, Sr., LB, Tennessee

A true workhorse on a talent-depleted Tennessee defense, Johnson has one final shot to leave a lasting mark and lead the Vols to a winning season — something they haven’t done during the signing class of 2011’s tenure. His 244 total tackles over the last two years is tops in the SEC’s Eastern Division and dwarf Al Wilson’s career numbers as arguably Tennessee’s greatest linebacker.

RELATED: Projecting SEC stat leaders — Linebackers

Johnson has the luxury of playing with some help as a senior, welcoming back redshirt-junior Curtis Maggitt who missed all of last season. Johnson’s tackle numbers may decrease thanks to his worthy sidekick picking up some of the slack, but he’ll still be an all-conference performer at year’s end as the best player on the Vols’ defense.

2013 statistics: 106 total tackles, 8.5 TFL
2014 projection: 91 total tackles, 10.5 TFL