Ranking the SEC's top 10 defensive linemen in the BCS era
Related BCS Ranking:
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- Ranking the top 10 SEC Defensive Linemen in the BCS era
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Every year it seems the SEC produces the nation’s best defensive linemen. Over the last 16 years, fans have seen some incredible athletes come through the SEC. With so many quality players to choose from, this is easily one of the hardest position groups to choose only 10 players. But we did it anyway!
Here are the SEC’s top 10 defensive linemen during the BCS era:
1. David Pollack, DE, Georgia (2001-04)
Notable stats: 36 sacks, 58 TFL, 117 QBH, 18 PBU, 4 INTs
The lowdown: For our younger readers, David Pollack is more than just a college football analyst on ESPN. Before his television days, he ruled the SEC as one of the best lineman to come through the conference. During his days with Georgia, Pollack racked up award after award. He was a three-time first-team All-SEC and All-American member as well as a two-time SEC Player of the Year. Pollack was also the recipient of the 2004 Lombardi Award. His Georgia record of 36 sacks was broken by Jarvis Jones, but his sack numbers along with a career total of 58 tackles for loss make him stand out as one of Georgia’s best defensive players ever. Fans will remember him for hustle and perhaps the game’s quickest reaction time. Poor Corey Jenkins.
2. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU (2004-07)
Notable stats: 15 sacks, 27 TFL
The lowdown: Dorsey was at LSU for four seasons, but it was his final two years as a Tiger when he made the most impact. As a junior and senior Dorsey racked up an impressive 133 tackles, including 21 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Dorsey was the best player on the nation’s third-best defense on the way to their national title in 2007. Dorsey was a two-time All-SEC and first-team All-American. He won the Lombardi Award, Nagurski Trophy, Outland Trophy and the Lott Trophy and was also named SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2007.
3. John Henderson, DT, Tennessee (1998-2001)
Notable stats: 20.5 sacks, 165 tackles
The lowdown: Big John Henderson was a consensus All-American in 2000-01, as well as a first-team All-SEC performer. He won the Outland Trophy in 2000, and his 20.5 sacks and 165 total tackles are just ridiculous for a tackle. The combination of Henderson and fellow tackle Albert Haynesworth gave the Vols a dynamite duo on the defensive line.
4. Alex Brown, DE, Florida (1998-2001)
Notable stats: 161 tackles, 47 TFL, 33 sacks
The lowdown: After being redshirted his freshman season, Brown became one of the best pass rushers in Florida Gators history. He was a first-team All-SEC star in 1999-01 and a first-team All-American in 1999 and 2001. Brown was also the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2001. Brown’s defining moment as a Gator came in his five-sack performance against the Tennessee Vols, their hated rival. With the Vols ranked No. 2 in the country, the Gators pulled off an incredible upset, beating Tennessee 23-21. It was just Brown’s third game for the Gators.
5. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (2011-2013)
Notable stats: 130 tackles, 24 sacks, 47 TFL
The lowdown: Easily with the best physical frame of any lineman on this list, Clowney’s three years were a nightmare for opposing offenses. Despite being 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, Clowney was arguably the fastest lineman in college football. He emerged as the nation’s best defensive end during his sophomore season, registering 23.5 TFL and 13 sacks, including a school record 4.5 sacks in one game versus in-state rival Clemson. He was the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore and an unanimous All-American. His production slipped some in his junior season and questions about his motor and work ethic arose, but Clowney’s legacy in the BCS era is secure. Oh yeah, and there was this one hit.
6. Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn (2009-2010)
Notable stats: 88 tackles, 27.5 TFL, 13 sacks
The lowdown: After transferring to Auburn from Copiah-Lincoln CC, Fairley was rather quiet as a junior. Safe to say it was a completely different story in 2010. Fairley exploded for 11.5 sacks and 24 tackles for loss. What stood out about Fairely was his speed off the line. Many times, it seemed he was in the backfield by the time the ball had been snapped. Tenacious and probably a little too cocky, Fairley irked opposing SEC fans with his rough-style of play and his tendency to rub his success in the opponents’ face. That doesn’t take away from just how dominating he was as a senior, however. In 2010, he was the Lombardi Award winner, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American.
7. Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama (2008-09)
Notable stats: 51 tackles, 10.5 TFL, .5 sacks, 2 blocked FGs
The lowdown: ‘Mount’ Cody came into Alabama as a JUCO transfer for Nick Saban in 2008 and turned out to be the anchor in the middle for the defensive line. At a feeble 340 pounds, Cody was a player you did your best to avoid if you were a running back. He was All-SEC and an All-American both years at Alabama and perhaps is best known for his two blocked field goals against Tennessee, including this game-saving block.
8. Chad Lavalais, DT, LSU (2000-03)
Notable stats: 202 tackles, 12 sacks, 10 PD
The lowdown: Lavalais led the Tigers to the 2003 national championship and was a consensus All-American, All-SEC and National Defensive Player of the year. He appeared in nine games as a freshman and started 41 career games. Lavalais was a finalist for both the Nagurski and the Outland Trophies. He helped lead the Tigers’ defense that was first in scoring and total defense in 2003. Unfortunately, Lavalais’ decorated college career did not translate well into the NFL and he has not played in the league since 2005.
9. Richard Seymour, DT, Georgia (1997-2000)
Notable stats: 223 tackles, 26 TFL, 10 sacks
The lowdown: Seymour is one of the most dominant D-linemen to ever play in the SEC, let alone at Georgia. His four years at Georgia were filled with spectacular plays and tons of tackles. Seymour recorded an absurd 74 tackles in one season, which is practically unheard of as a defensive tackle. He was a first-team All-American in 2000 and two-time first-team All-SEC performer in 1999 and 2000.
10. John Abraham, DE, South Carolina (1996-99)
Notable stats: 23.5 sacks
The lowdown: Nicknamed ‘The Predator’, Abraham was a menace for Gamecocks’ opponents. He led the Gamecocks in sacks all four seasons and earned a first-team All-SEC selection in 199. His 23. 5 career sacks stood as the school record until recently when another Gamecock on our list surpassed it. Abraham is still playing in the NFL and is a five-time Pro Bowler.