Who has the most talent in the SEC at LB?
When it comes to recruiting, the SEC does not dominate the linebacker position as you may expect.
The conference’s 14 teams can claim four combined five-star linebackers: Rashaan Evans (Alabama), Tre’ Williams (Auburn), Lorenzo Carter (Georgia) and Jordan Jenkins (Georgia).
Even at a relatively weak position group, the SEC contains 54 four-star linebackers at the moment.
Here’s a look at the team-by-team linebacker talent, followed by a few observations:
|Team||Total 4 or 5-star LBs||Avg. Rating||Other LBs|
- Alabama (12) and Georgia (10) are the only teams with double-digit “quality” linebackers, which makes sense. The Tide may hold the best run-stopping front seven, while the Bulldogs have the best group of rush linebackers in the SEC.
- Auburn and Tennessee (average rating: 3.7) are tied with UGA for the second-best average talent level at linebacker in the SEC.
- Ole Miss may have the best defense in the SEC, thanks to its defensive line and secondary. But there are huge questions at linebacker. C.J. Johnson, who converted from defensive end to middle linebacker as a senior, is the only four-star player for the Rebels at the position. Ole Miss’ talent level at the position is equal to Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
- SEC linebackers don’t need to be touted recruits to become stars. Some former three-star recruits who are key players in 2015: Brooks Ellis (Arkansas), Josh Forrest (Kentucky), Kentrell Brothers (Missouri), Michael Scherer (Missouri), Denzel Nkemdiche (Ole Miss), Skai Moore (South Carolina), Jonathan Walton (South Carolina) and Nigel Bowden (Vanderbilt).
- Arkansas is the only SEC team without a four- or five-star linebacker on the roster. Worse, the Razorbacks are playing with seven scholarship linebackers this year, and two of them didn’t warrant star ratings out of high school. There’s not much there after Ellis and Khalia Hackett, so the team must keep those two healthy.
- Several other SEC teams are super thin at linebacker. Including its true freshmen, LSU is playing with seven scholarship linebackers in ’15. Florida also has seven scholarship linebackers, and two projected starters — Antonio Morrison and Jarrad Davis — are coming off major knee injuries. South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas A&M also have some depth concerns at the position.
Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of the scholarship linebackers in the SEC. Star ratings listed below are based on the 247Sports composite rankings.
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
5: Rashaan Evans
4: Ryan Anderson, Denzel Devall, Reuben Foster, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Keith Holcombe, Dillon Lee, Christian Miller, Reggie Ragland, Tim Williams, Joshua McMillon, Keaton Anderson
3: Walker Jones
3: Brooks Ellis, Dwayne Eugene, Khalia Hackett, Derrick Graham, Kendrick Jackson
N/A: Nicholas Thomas-Smith, Josh Williams
5: Tre’ Williams
4: Cassanova McKinzy, Kris Frost, Jeffery Holland, Darrell Williams, Richard McBryde, Montavious Atkinson
3: JaViere Mitchell, Justin Garrett, Kenny Flowers, Cameron Toney, Deshaun Davis
N/A: Daniel Pond
4: Alex Anzalone, Daniel McMillian, Antonio Morrison, Jeremi Powell, Matt Rolin
3: Jarrad Davis, Rayshad Jackson
5: Lorenzo Carter, Jordan Jenkins
4: Davin Bellamy, Reggie Carter, Leonard Floyd, Tim Kimbrough, Johnny O’Neal, Natrez Patrick, Gary McCrae, Roquan Smith
3: Chuks Amaechi, Detric Bing-Dukes, Shaun McGee, Ryne Rankin, Juwan Taylor
2: Jake Ganus
4: Eli Brown
3: Daron Blaylock, Kobie Walker, Dorian Hendrix, Khalid Henderson, Ryan Flannigan, Jordan Jones, Nico Firios, Josh Forrest, Courtney Love, Jordan Jones
4: Lamar Lewis, Ronnie Feist, Devin Voorhies, Kendall Beckwith
3: Duke Riley, Deion Jones, Donnie Alexander
MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
4: Gerri Green, Beniquez Brown, Leo Lewis
3: Traver Jung, Zach Jackson, Quadry Antoine, Richie Brown, J.T. Gray, Dezmond Harris, Tim Washington, Keith Joseph
N/A: DeAndre Ward
4: Brandon Lee, Donavin Newsom
3: Eric Beisel, Kentrell Brothers, Joey Burkett, Clarence Green, Grant Jones, Michael Scherer, Roderick Winters, Terez Hall, Franklin Agbasimere
OLE MISS REBELS
4: C.J. Johnson
3: Denzel Nkemdiche, Christian Russell, Terry Caldwell, Tayler Polk, Ray Ray Smith, Demarquis Gates, Temario Strong, Terry Caldwell, Zedrick Woods, Shawn Curtis
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
4: Bryson Allen-Williams, Sherrod Pittman
3: Ernest Hawkins, Jalen Henry, T.J. Holloman, Skai Moore, Jonathan Walton, Daniel Fennell
4: Quart’e Sapp, Dillon Bates, Cortez McDowell, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Darrin Kirkland Jr., Gavin Bryant, Chris Weatherd
3: Austin Smith, Elliott Berry, Kenny Bynum
TEXAS A&M AGGIES
4: Josh Walker, Otaro Alaka
3: Richard Moore, Claude George, Shaan Washington, A.J. Hilliard, Landis Durham, Riley Garner, Dwaine Thomas
4: Zach Cunningham, Josh Smith
3: Khari Blasingame, Nigel Bowden, Harding Harper, Darreon Herring, Jake Sealand, Landon Stokes, Ja’karri Thomas, Stephen Weatherly, Dare Odeyingbo, Jordan Griffin
2: Charles Wright