Top 10 all-time SEC players ranked by career sacks
The era when SEC linebackers or defensive ends wracked up double-digit sacks in two or even three seasons seems to have come and gone.
The best recent sack artists get most or all of their numbers in one burst, like Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, who collected all 28 of his sacks in his final two seasons in Athens.
It’s really difficult to imagine anyone challenging Derrick Thomas (52) or Billy Jackson (49) any time soon, as it would take more than 12 sacks per year for four years. If anyone is that good now, it’s unlikely they remain with their SEC team for more than three seasons.
Despite the proliferation of passing today, the majority of the SEC’s all-time sack leaders played in the ’70s and ’80s. Perhaps that’s because of the league’s elite collection of offensive tackles, the current offensive propensity to get rid of the ball quickly or both.
Not surprisingly, Georgia dominates the SEC’s career Top 10 list, claiming four of the entrants. Tennessee also claims a pair of players, while Auburn and LSU are not represented.
Four of the 11 SEC players with at least 28 career sacks have competed in the 21st century, topped by David Pollack’s 36. In recent years, South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney and Kentucky’s Bud Dupree have come close.
Last year’s freshmen standouts, Tennessee’s Derek Barnett and Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, could creep toward the edge of this Top 10 just by repeating their ’14 seasons, though that may be easier said than done. Garrett in particular would have 23 sacks with a cookie-cutter ’15, and would need just five in what probably would be his third and final season in College Station. Or, to look at it another way, he needs to average nine sacks a season for two more years to make this list.
Tragically, the SEC’s all-time sack leader, Derek Thomas, died in a car accident at 33 years old after a brilliant 11-year NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs. The fourth overall pick in 1989, Thomas made 126.5 sacks in those 11 years, including 20 in 1990. Oddly enough, the SEC’s all-time leading tackler, Tennessee’s Andy Spiva, also died in a car crash in 1979 at 25 years of age.
Here are the Top 10 all-time SEC defensive players ranked by career sacks.
|1. Derrick Thomas||Alabama||52.0||1985-88|
|2. Billy Jackson||Mississippi State||49.0||1980-83|
|3. Ben Williams||Ole Miss||37.0||1972-75|
|4. David Pollack||Georgia||36.0||2001-04|
|5. Alex Brown||Florida||33.0||1998-01|
|6. Reggie White||Tennessee||32.0||1980-83|
|T7. Richard Tardits||Georgia||29.0||1985-88|
|T7. Eric Norwood||South Carolina||29.0||2006-09|
|T9. Jimmy Payne||Georgia||28.0||1978-82|
|T9. Leonard Little||Tennessee||28.0||1995-97|
|T9. Jarvis Jones||Georgia||28.0||2009-12|
All stats courtesy of the SEC record book.