10 most feared hitters in the SEC
They arrive out of nowhere like an invisible 18-wheeler and leave you wondering what just trucked you. They’re the hardest hitters on the field, and they generally show little to zero regard for the well-being of opposing ball-carriers — often times at the expense of their own health.
Here is a look at 10 of the most feared hitters that will take their heat-seeking missiles to the gridiron in the SEC this season.
REUBEN FOSTER, ALABAMA
Reuben Foster might be the hardest hitting player in all of college football. In fact, legend has it that the Alabama linebacker has knocked himself out cold on several occasions during practice — and that was three years ago. Now a senior and owner of 108 career tackles, Foster is a threat to light someone up on any given play. Just ask Leonard Fournette.
TONY CONNER, OLE MISS
A meniscus injury limited Tony Conner to just five games during the 2015 season, which was good news for the bones of Ole Miss’ opponents. Playing out of the Rebels’ Huskie position, a hybrid strong safety/nickel role, Conner forged a reputation as one of the hardest hitting defenders in the SEC, averaging 67.5 tackles as an underclassman. The senior, who was believed to be on track as a high NFL Draft pick prior to the injury suffered against Alabama, still isn’t 100 percent but expects to return to the Ole Miss defense when the team begins the season against Florida State in Orlando.
JAMAL ADAMS, LSU
Jamal Adams earned Second-Team All-SEC honors as a sophomore in 2015 and a Freshman All-American nod, in large part to his ability to deliver a bone-crushing hit or two. Now a junior, LSU opponents really need to know where the LSU safety is on the field at all times — lest you wind up black and blue. Adams has piled up 66 and 67 tackles in each of his first two seasons in Baton Rouge. He’s also quite adept at leveling blocks.
QUINCY MAUGER, GEORGIA
Quincy Mauger is finally correcting people as to the pronunciation of his last name. It’s not “MAW-ger,” but rather “Mo-ZHAY,” in accordance with his French Creole Haitian roots. We get the feeling no one is going to question the Georgia safety. Mauger has accrued 166 career tackles, at least 50 in each of his three seasons in Athens. And while he’s certainly adroit at dropping ball-carriers behind the line of scrimmage, he’s potentially more dangerous in the open field.
JALEN REEVES-MAYBIN, TENNESSEE
Got a hankering to see a ball-carrier get tuned up? Enter “Jalen Reeves-Maybin” into a Vine engine search, then sit back and enjoy. The Tennessee linebacker has more than 100 tackles in each of the last two seasons, each one more vicious than the next. The Volunteers’ defense has a chance to be something special this year, and that begins with the unit’s undisputed leader Reeves-Maybin, who is looking to boast a huge senior campaign. Keep the bandages and gauze nearby, because we’re going to need them.
ARMANI WATTS, TEXAS A&M
Armani Watts led Texas A&M in tackles as a sophomore by a wide margin. And it wasn’t even close for the man who finished second in the SEC in tackles with 45 more takedowns than his next-closest teammate. His biggest impact, and we stress the word impact, comes on plays such as this one against an unsuspecting Western Carolina tight end Tyler Sexton.
CARL LAWSON, AUBURN
Defensive linemen aren’t usually considered “hard hitters” due to the lack of ball-carriers finding open space to run before their greeting by the line. Plus, linemen generally have to contend with more double and triple teams impeding their momentum before they can deliver a devastating blow. Carl Lawson doesn’t seem to fit that category. The Auburn defensive end is renowned for leveling brutal hits. That is, if he can remain healthy. Lawson has played in just seven games (all of them in 2015) since the end of the 2013 season.
LORENZO CARTER, GEORGIA
Quincy Mauger can’t have all the fun for Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs. The junior outside linebacker is set to bruise some spines in 2016. Carter saw his tackle totals drop from 41 as a freshman to 19 last year, but he’s poised for an even bigger role as a leader of the Georgia linebacking corps. As demonstrated in this Vine, it’s a very bad idea to allow Carter unfettered access to the quarterback.
RICHIE BROWN, MISSISSIPPI STATE
Everywhere Richie Brown traveled on Mississippi State’s campus this spring, he was met with the same plea: stick around Starkville for one more year, please. Bulldog opponents should have begged for the linebacker, who led the team in tackles with 109 in 2015, to try his hand in the NFL. Brown ultimately decided to stay for his senior year, undoubtedly at the chagrin of SEC ball-carriers.
JARRAD DAVIS, FLORIDA
Note to self, never leave your feet when Jarrad Davis is in the general vicinity. It’ll end poorly as it has for so many SEC opponents in the past. Davis, who finished with 98 tackles — five behind Florida’s team leader Antonio Morrison — is back for his senior year, and that should cause conference foes to run with the ball … away from the menacing linebacker. Don’t take it from us. Take it from last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, who called him the toughest player he faced in his college career. Gee, maybe this play is a reason why?