We’ve reached the Top 10 of our Top 100 SEC players list and will unveil the remaining players daily leading up to opening night on Aug. 28.

8. Markus Golden, Sr., DE, Mizzou

Golden’s career comes full circle this fall as he assumes the star player role on the Mizzou defense as a redshirt senior. Golden’s path to Columbia took him through the JUCO ranks after high school to a special teams, situational role with the Tigers in 2012. Putting an emphasis on total number of snaps, Golden was the defense’s most productive player ahead of Kony Ealy and Michael Sam as a junior last season with 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

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Deserving of a more featured role in his final campaign, Golden’s numbers should soar and elevate his draft position into an early-round selection in 2015. Projected as a defensive end-outside linebacker hybrid, he’s one of the SEC’s best at reading running backs and shaking off blocks to get after the quarterback. Golden’s a threat in coverage as well with eight career pass-breakups and a pick six to his credit.

2013 statistics: 55 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks
2014 projection: 56 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks