Alabama Crimson Tide: Kevin Minter

Ultimate 300: SEC's top classes 

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
10:30
AM ET

The SEC has dominated the recruiting world over the past several years. Since 2008, the SEC has had at least three schools finish in the top 10 of the ESPN recruiting class rankings each year. Last year, the conference had an impressive six schools ranked among the top 10 recruiting classes in the country. This year is much of the same, as seven SEC schools are ranked in the top 10.

Here’s a closer look at the five best recruiting SEC schools in the Ultimate ESPN 300.

SEC's DLs, LBs strong at combine

February, 21, 2013
2/21/13
12:03
PM ET

Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites will look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins Friday in Indianapolis, and other predraft camps. Today: Defensive linemen and linebackers.

Alabama Crimson Tide


Alabama's front seven was rock solid and had a distinctive rock-n-roll flair in nose guard Jesse Williams. Though the Crimson Tide defense lacked a true superstar, Williams' Mohawk haircut, countless tattoos and colorful face paint made the unit stand out.
  • DT Jesse Williams (Position rank: No. 8)
    Strengths: Like his counterpart on the middle of the Alabama offensive line, Barrett Jones, Williams is nothing if not versatile. He played both defensive end and nose guard at UA and possesses the type of strength and quickness that would allow him to do the same at the next level.
    Weaknesses: While Williams is above average in defending the run and the pass, he's not superb at either. His production at Alabama was less than ideal, which can be attributed to the scheme on defense, but a lack of sacks and tackles for loss highlight an inability to consistently rush the passer.
    Comparable: In terms of versatility and athleticism, he is similar to Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams.
  • ILB Nico Johnson (Position rank: No. 8)
    Strengths: Johnson -- who no longer is scheduled to attend the combine -- has the look of an NFL linebacker at 6-foot-2 and 249 pounds. He is a solid wrap-up tackler with good instincts. The fact that he has had no off-field trouble or injury concerns will only help his draft stock.
    Weaknesses: The emergence of C.J. Mosley hurt Johnson in 2012. When Alabama had to defend multiple-receiver looks, Johnson often came off the field in favor of Mosley. Johnson is built for run support, but his lack of athleticism hurts in terms of being an every-down linebacker.
    Comparable: Johnson looks and plays like New Orleans Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton. Both are sure tacklers with good instincts getting between the tackles and getting to the ball carrier.
  • DE Quinton Dial (Position rank: No. 27)
    Strengths: Every so often an Alabama player doesn't hit his potential until he has left college. Dial might be one of those guys. The big, thick defensive end has the raw size (6-foot-5, 307 pounds) and skill to play at the next level and will likely do well in team workouts leading up to the draft.
    Weaknesses: A lack of production at Alabama will create a glass ceiling for Dial. While scouts can fall in love with measurables, they still want to see the talent on tape.
    Comparable: Dial could learn a thing or two from Baltimore Ravens defensive end DeAngelo Tyson, who didn't blow away anyone at Georgia, but after being selected late in the seventh round has become a solid contributor. In terms of size, the two compare favorably, as Tyson comes in at 6-foot-2, 315 pounds.
  • Damion Square (Position rank: No. 29)
    Strengths: Square isn't going to light up the scoreboard with sacks or tackles for loss, but he's consistent. Under coach Nick Saban's watchful eye, Square developed into a solid defender against the run and pass, and understands the idea of gap-assignment football.
    Weaknesses: Simply put, Square doesn't possess the necessary athleticism to get drafted. If there is a player hurt most by missing out on the Senior Bowl, it's him.
    Comparable: N/A

Florida Gators


The heart of the Gators’ 2012 defense will participate in the combine today. DT Sharrif Floyd, whose stock is rising rapidly as he is projected to be taken as high as No. 3, had a fantastic season and anchored UF’s front. He dominated Florida State’s front, and his mixture of size, strength and quickness has scouts drooling. ILB Jon Bostic started every game the past two seasons and was UF’s leader on defense. Nobody was more dependable than Bostic. OLB Jelani Jenkins was limited in 2012 because of a broken finger, a strained hamstring and a broken foot, but when healthy he’s a solid player. OLB Lerentee McCray was forced into action at the buck position (hybrid end/linebacker) because of the injury to Ronald Powell. He didn’t produce big numbers but was a high-effort, high-motor guy.

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On Monday, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones was named The Associated Press SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

A worthy candidate indeed when you look at his flashy resume. He finished the regular season third on Georgia's team with 77 tackles, first nationally in tackles for loss (22.5) and second in the SEC (fourth nationally) in sacks (12.5).

He also led he country with seven forced fumbles.

Not too bad for a player who battled injuries all year and played in just 11 of Georgia's 13 games.

But this had to be a very, very tough vote. While Jones was fantastic in his second year in the SEC, he had some very stiff competition from the likes of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, LSU linebacker Kevin Minter, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore.

All of them proved to be game-changers and all were worthy competition for Jones.

Let's take a look at their resumes:

Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia (winner)

Tackles: 77 (40)
Tackles for loss: 22.5 (first nationally)
Sacks: 12.5 (fourth nationally)

Making the case for Jones: Every offense that faced Jones had to specifically game plan for him. He just has a knack for finding the ball and making plays. He completely changed the Missouri game with his interception and his sack/fumble force on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter. He essentially won the game for the Dawgs against Florida when he poked the ball out of tight end Jordan Reed's hand just before he crossed the goal line for a potential game-tying touchdown. If there's a play to be made, Jones will find it.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Tackles: 50 (37 solo)
Tackles for loss: 21.5 (second nationally)
Sacks: 13 (tied for first nationally)

Making the case for Clowney: When you talk to players and coaches around the league about Clowney, just about everyone tends to consider him the league's top player, regardless of position. He might be the most physically gifted defender in the SEC, if not the nation. After taking some criticism for his in-game endurance, Clowney turned his play up in the season's second half. He basically ended Tennessee's comeback hopes with his sack/fumble with the Vols down three and inside South Carolina's 20 late in the fourth quarter. Then he abused Clemson's backfield with 4.5 sacks in the season finale. The sack total was also a Clemson Memorial Stadium record.

Kevin Minter, LB, LSU

Tackles: 111 (48 solo)
Tackles for loss: 13.5
Sacks: 3

Making the case for Minter: He was one of the SEC's most active defenders. He averaged 9.25 tackles per game and even collected 20 tackles, 17 of them solo, against Florida. He finished the season with seven games in which he registered nine tackles or more. Like Jones, Minter is someone who just knows how to find the ball. He has tremendous speed and packs quite the punch when he goes in for a tackle. He also broke up six passes, grabbed an interception and forced a fumble.

Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

Tackles: 80 (54 solo)
Tackles for loss: 20 (tied for third nationally)
Sacks: 12.5 (tied for fourth nationally)

Making the case for Moore: So, he moved from outside linebacker, had to get into better shape and had to learn a new defensive scheme. Yet, he was even better? For most of the 2012 season, Moore was the most productive defensive player in the SEC. He only failed to record at least one tackle for loss twice and didn't record at least one sack in just three games. He finished the regular season leading the Aggies in tackles and will likely become the first defensive end to lead the Aggies in tackles since Sam Adams had 78 in 1993.

C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

Tackles: 99 (61 solo)
Tackles for loss: 7
Sacks: 4

Making the case for Mosley: He's one of the most gifted linebackers in the SEC and just figures out ways to find the ball an makes plays. He led the Crimson Tide in tackles by 43 and averaged 7.6 tackles a game. He recorded double-digit-tackle numbers three times this year and he was the one who tipped Aaron Murray's final pass in the SEC championship game that secured the Tide's victory. He has one of the highest motors in the league and has tremendous field IQ as well.
Now that you've seen Chris Low's top 25, it's time to see what my list of the top 25 players in the SEC looks like.

I'm not perfect, but I'll try to be:

1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Who has been more exciting than Johnny Football? The Aggies aren't 5-1 without him or his 1,600 passing yards, 676 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns.

2. Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida: He's powering Florida's offense and he's been the SEC's best back thus far. He's extremely explosive and is strong enough to bully his way to extra yards and wear down defenses.

3. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: He's turning into the dominating player we've really been waiting to see. Some think he might be the best player overall in the conference and is pushing to be next year's No. 1 NFL draft pick.

4. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia: At one time, he was a Heisman candidate, but injuries and double-teams stunted that campaign. Still, he's the SEC's best linebacker, can fly around the field and just feasts on opposing quarterbacks.

5. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama: He's been Alabama's best defensive player this year and can make plays from just about anywhere on the field. He leads Alabama with 51 tackles, has 2.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

6. Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M: Even though he moved from linebacker to defensive end, Moore has been just as dominant as he was last season. He leads the SEC in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (15).

7. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State: This summer, he said he was the SEC's best cornerback and he hasn't disappointed. He has three interceptions on the season and is averaging just 4.7 yards per attempt in man coverage.

8. Chance Warmack, OL, Alabama: He might be the nation's best offensive lineman and he's just blowing defenders up this season. No wonder Alabama can run the ball so well.

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SEC post-spring power rankings

May, 18, 2012
5/18/12
11:30
AM ET
We're putting spring behind us and looking toward the fall with our post-spring power rankings:

1. LSU: The Tigers had one of the best springs around. Things were quiet off the field, and the offense rallied behind quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Coach Les Miles was very impressed with Mettenberger's play and maturity, and expects LSU's offense to be more balanced with him under center. LSU can still use four or five running backs as well. Defensively, the Tigers are stacked once again, especially up front with two potential first-rounders in ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo. Questions surround the inexperienced linebackers, but Kevin Minter had a tremendous spring in the middle. On paper, LSU is equipped with the talent to make another title run, and gets Alabama at home this year.

2. Alabama: The defending national champs saw a lot of "new" faces on defense this spring, but coach Nick Saban left happy with where his players were -- but not satisfied. There is still work to be done, especially in the secondary, where the Tide must replace three starters. Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw are gone at linebacker, but the coaches were impressed with how Nico Johnson, C.J. Mosley and Adrian Hubbard played this spring. Some think Hubbard, a redshirt sophomore, could be Bama's top pass-rusher. Offensively, quarterback AJ McCarron is back, more mature and surrounded by a very veteran line. He has a group of younger receivers to throw to, but has at least four quality running backs. Alabama's road to repeating is tougher, with games at Arkansas and LSU.

3. South Carolina: A healthy Marcus Lattimore (knee) makes South Carolina an even better contender for the SEC East crown. His status is uncertain, but the pieces around him are pretty impressive. Quarterback Connor Shaw had an impressive spring, and looks ready to be the passer coach Steve Spurrier wants him to be. The defense is once again stacked, especially up front with ends Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor. There are questions in the secondary, with two new, young starters in Victor Hampton (cornerback) and Brison Williams (safety), and senior Akeem Auguste coming back after missing all of last season with a foot injury. Still, Spurrier is chirping about his SEC counterparts, so you know he thinks he's got a good team this year.

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