Ranking the No. 1 LB in each class who entered the SEC this decade
Where linebackers are concerned, Alabama and Georgia set the standard. From 2010-2019, one or the other selfishly hoarded the top LB recruit from each class who picked an SEC school.
So while those programs controlled the scenario, here’s how these 10 top LB recruits from each class, as rated by 247Sports, ranked 1-10 in descending order.
10. Ben Davis (Alabama, 2016, No. 1 LB, No. 10 player overall)
The No. 10-ranked recruit nationally, Davis was the top-ranked LB and the No. 1 overall recruit from the state of Alabama.
But he hasn’t panned out like can’t-miss 5-star he was projected to be. This past season the junior did play in 11 games but only registered 4 total tackles, including a sack.
This class included others who have made an impact, including No. 8 Michael Divinity (LSU), No. 23 Daniel Bituli (Tennessee), No. 32 Kash Daniel (Kentucky), No. 40 Erroll Thompson (Mississippi State) and No. 42 David Reese (Florida).
Oddly enough, the star of the group was listed as a running back. Devin White, who won the 2018 Butkus Award, was the No. 5-ranked running back in the 2016 class. The Tigers already had a pretty good one on campus, though, in Derrius Guice. The rest is history …
9. Adam Anderson (Georgia, 2018, No. 2 LB, No. 18 overall)
Anderson was top-ranked OLB in the nation and the No. 4 overall recruit out of the state of Georgia. He was part of the Dawgs’ heralded class that included 3 of the nation’s top 8 linebackers. Qway Walker was No. 3 and Otis Reese was No. 8.
Looking for a breakout season, Anderson has compiled 22 tackles over 2 seasons and has seen action in all 28 games during that span. He had 2.5 tackles for loss in his freshman season.
8. Nakobe Dean (Georgia, 2019, No. 2 LB, No. 19 overall)
Dean also was rated the No. 2 recruit at ILB as well as the top-rated player from Mississippi.
Off to an excellent start, Dean could climb the ladder with more seasons like his freshman year. Named the team’s Co-Defensive Newcomer of the Year, Dean played in all 14 games in 2019, recording 25 tackles, including 1.5 for loss.
The SEC absolutely cleaned up in this class, signing 8 of the top 11 LBs.
7. Josh Harvey-Clemons (Georgia, 2012, No. 1 LB, No. 22 overall)
He also was the No. 1 recruit at OLB as well as the top prospect out Georgia.
He stayed just 2 seasons at Georgia before transferring to Louisville. As a Bulldog, he totaled 79 tackles, including 6.5 for loss.
Reggie Ragland, ranked the No. 2 LB and No. 1 ILB, was the star of this class, which also included standouts such as No. 9 Kwon Alexander (LSU) and No. 20 Leonard Floyd (Georgia).
6. Dylan Moses (Alabama, 2017, No. 2 LB, No. 13 overall)
Moses also ranked No. 2 in the nation at his OLB position and No. 3 from Florida.
He had his breakout sophomore season in 2018 when he led the team with 86 tackles, including 10 for loss (3.5 sacks). In just two years at Alabama, he piled up 116 tackles, with 15.5 for loss and 5.0 sacks.
He missed last season with an injury but decided to return to bolster the Tide’s title chances in 2020.
LSU’s Jacob Phillips, the No. 3 LB in this class, led the SEC with 113 tackles in 2019.
5. Rashaan Evans (Alabama, 2014, No. 1 LB, No. 14 overall)
Evans was the No. 2 recruit in the state of Alabama. He was part of a hyped class that included 3 of the nation’s top 10 linebackers.
He played in 53 games over 4 years at Alabama. As a senior in 2017, Evans tied with Ronnie Harrison for the team lead with 74 tackles. He stood alone atop the team with 13 tackles for loss and was 2nd to Raekwon Davis with 6.0 sacks. He finished his career at Alabama with 151 total tackles.
4. Alec Ogletree (Georgia, 2010, No. 2 LB, No. 19 overall)
Ogletree was the top-rated recruit nationally at his ILB position and the No. 2 recruit out Georgia.
In 2012 he led the team with 111 tackles and was 2nd in tackles for loss (11.5). That year in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama, he returned a blocked field goal attempt 55 yards for the only touchdown of his college career. In 3 seasons at Georgia, he totaled 197 tackles, including 20 for loss and 6.0 sacks.
Ogletree made it to the NFL but has admitted off-field issues prevented him from reaching his full potential at Georgia.
This class is notable because only 5 of the Top 25 linebackers picked an SEC school.
3. Trey DePriest (Alabama, 2011, No. 6 LB, No. 30 overall)
DePriest rated the No. 2 recruit out of the state of Ohio, and No. 3 nationally at his position.
Consistently one of Alabama’s top players over 4 years, DePriest played in 53 games. He piled up 236 tackles, including 115 solo tackles. Of that total, 18 were for loss. He also recorded 7.0 sacks over his final two seasons.
2. Roquan Smith (Georgia, 2015, No. 5 LB, No. 48 overall)
The only 4-star in this group, Smith was ranked No. 6 overall from Georgia.
But he performed way above that. He dominated the 2017 award season, winning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, the Butkus Award and earning 1st-team All-American.
He led the Bulldogs in 2 consecutive seasons in tackles, amassing 137 in 2017 alone. That year he also led the team in tackles for loss (14) and sacks (6.5), and ranked 5th in the nation with 85 solo tackles. Over 3 seasons, Smith piled up a whopping 252 total tackles, with 20.5 for loss.
The SEC only nabbed 3 of the top 10 linebackers in this class. No. 7 Leo Lewis was a standout at Mississippi State and No. 10 Jeff Holland had 10 sacks for Auburn in 2017.
Josh Allen was listed as a weakside defensive end in this class, but he wasn’t on anybody’s radar, there, either. The SEC’s most dominant defender in 2018 was ranked No. 2,221 in this class.
1. Reuben Foster (Alabama, 2013, No. 2 LB, No. 6 overall)
Foster was ranked No. 1 both at his ILB position and also from the state of Alabama.
He played like it, too. Foster helped Alabama win a national title in 2015 and was the 2016 Butkus Award winner, when he was also named a 1st-team All-American.
He led the team in tackles in his senior year (2016) with 115 after finishing second on the squad to Reggie Ragland the year before with 73 tackles. In four seasons with the Tide, Foster registered 223 tackles, including 24 for loss. He registered 5.0 sacks in his senior season.
Jonathan Allen was part of this class, too. Listed as the nation’s No. 4-ranked LB, he blossomed into a defensive line menace with the Tide. The biggest overachiever in this class? South Carolina’s Skai Moore was a 3-star ranked No. 48 among linebackers.