A good pass rush that can consistently get after the quarterback is key for a defense to be successful at any level.

Every year, the SEC features some of the best sack specialists in the country and 2015 appears to be no different.

Many of the conference’s elite pass rushers will be high draft picks after this season, but in the meantime will help the SEC boast some of the best defenses in college football once again.

We’ve predicted the conference’s top individual sack leaders as well as which SEC teams will have the best pass rush in 2015.


1. DL Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

Garrett is a sophomore that is going to be right up there with the conference’s sack leaders at the end of the season like he was last year when he had 11.5 — a SEC true freshman record. The 6-foot-5, 255-pounder is athletic as they come and uses that to get in the backfield on a regular basis. Garrett had 10 quarterback hurries last year despite only playing in 11 games and starting seven.

2. DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee

Barnett exploded onto the scene last year for the Volunteers with 10 sacks, 8 quarterback hurries and 20.5 tackles for a loss — and that was with only starting 10 games. With his role expanding even further this season, Barnett should only get better like he did as the season progressed last year. Barnett is a physical player with a high motor and he knows how to show up at the right time, recording all 10 of his sacks in conference play last season.

3. LB/DL Curt Maggitt, Tennessee

Maggitt is the second Volunteer on this list and will be part of the tandem in Knoxville that will wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks this season. The redshirt junior has battled through injuries and switched positions a few times since arriving at Tennessee, but last season he broke out as one of college football’s best pass rushers, finishing with 11 sacks and 5 quarterback hurries.

4. DL Carl Lawson, Auburn

Lawson would probably be higher on this list if he didn’t miss all of 2014 with an injury. But as a true freshman in 2013, he was second on Auburn in sacks despite not starting a game. New Tigers defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has expressed excitement for getting to coach a player like Lawson and will know how to use his skill set along with Montravius Adams and DaVonte Lambert to produce a defense that will be a nightmare for quarterbacks.

5. DE Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss

Man, sophomores really dominated this list. Haynes made the SEC All-Freshman team last season after recording 7.5 sacks for the Rebels. His 9 tackles for a loss were also tied for the Ole Miss team lead and he’ll have a chance to improve upon those numbers this year playing in that aggressive Landshark defense. With defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche demanding double teams right beside him, Haynes will have great opportunities to pin his ears backs and get after the quarterback.


1. Tennessee

Barnett and Maggitt alone would probably be enough to put the Volunteers at the top of this list. But then when you add a player like Jalen Reeves-Maybin to the mix, it almost becomes unfair for opposing offenses. The Volunteers finished fourth in the conference last season with 35 sacks, but they return more contributing pass rushers than the teams that finished ahead of them.

2. Georgia

It was hard not putting any Bulldogs on the players list. Georgia has three or four linebackers, including Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins, that could be fourth or fifth in the conference in sacks. Collectively they make up one of the best pass rushes in the SEC. Georgia was in the middle of the pack last season when it comes to the conference’s most sacks and will look to improve upon that in 2015.

3. Auburn

The defensive line and linebackers for the Tigers are fierce. Muschamp is going to have a field day coming up with creative blitzes for this group and opposing offensive coordinators are going to be dreading having to game plan for the Tigers defense. It would not be surprising if Auburn leads the SEC in sacks this season after finishing 11th in the conference last year.

4. Ole Miss

The Rebels had a great defense last year that finished 13th in the nation, but the secondary that featured two All-American defensive backs received most of the credit for its success. The back end of the defense is still solid in Oxford, but this season the Ole Miss defensive front is as stout as they come. Haynes and Nkemdiche will receive most of the attention, but players like Isaac Gross and Fadol Brown can effectively rush the passer as well.

5. Missouri

The Tigers’ 44 sacks last season were 7 more than the next team (Mississippi State). Losing elite pass rushers like Shane Ray and Markus Golden to the NFL and Harold Brantley due to injuries is sure to drastically slow down that production. But Kentrell Brothers, Michael Scherer and Donavin Newsom make up an impressive group of linebackers in a new, more aggressive Barry Odom system that pumps out sacks.