Lewis Neal had a heck of a year as a first year defensive starter for the LSU Tigers. Neal recorded 43 tackles (22 solo, 21 assisted), 8.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, six passes defended, and a fumble recovery in 10 games for the Tigers in 2015. Neal was seventh in the SEC in sacks, first on the team in sacks, third in tackles for loss. His best performance last season came in LSU’s 35-28 victory over Florida where Neal tallied 10 tackles (4 solo, 6 assisted), 3.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, and a pass deflection. Look for Neal to make his presence felt on LSU’s defense this season.
Josh Carraway was a first team All-Big 12 selection in 2015 and a terror for many opposing quarterbacks. Carraway recorded 46 tackles (24 solo, 22 assisted), 10.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three fumble recoveries, 2 passes defended, and a fumble recovery. Carraway was third in the Big 12 last season in sacks, second on the team in tackles for loss and first on the team in sacks. His best performance last season came in their 56-37 victory over SMU where Carraway recorded 6 tackles (2 solo, 4 assisted), three tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. Josh Carraway should be a leader for TCU on defense entering his final season of college football.
A second team All-SEC recipient, Charles Harris returns looking to produce at a higher rate entering his junior season. Harris recorded 56 tackles (32 solo, 24 assisted), 18.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, two forced fumbles, and a pass defended. Harris was second in the SEC in tackles for loss and tied for eighth in sacks last season. His best performance last season came in the Tigers 27-20 victory over Arkansas State where he registered 6 tackles (5 solo, 1 assisted), 4.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks. Harris returns to Missouri this season looking to solidify his presence as a top end in the nation.
Marquis Haynes was a second team All-SEC selection for Ole Miss in 2015 and hopes to build on his production this upcoming season. Haynes recorded 43 tackles (29 solo, 14 assisted), 16.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, two passes defended, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Haynes ranked fourth in the SEC in tackles for loss, fourth in fumbles forced and third in sacks in 2015. His best performance last season came against Auburn in the Rebel’s 27-19 victory where he racked up six solo tackles, three tackles for loss, and two sacks. Haynes returns in 2016 looking to prove he’s a bigger force than 2015, stay tuned.
Demarcus Walker was a second team All-ACC selection for his stellar efforts in 2015 . Walker recorded 56 tackles (25 solo, 31 assisted), 14 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, an interception, five passes defended, and three forced fumbles. He was fifth in sacks and second in forced fumbles in the ACC in 2015. Walker’s best performance of 2015 came in their victory over Florida 27-2 in which he recorded 8 tackles (2 solo, 6 assisted), 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and a field goal block. Walker returns to a Seminole defense looking to dethrone Clemson in the ACC as champion.
Carl Lawson returns in 2016 after only playing in 7 games last season, he missed six games due to a hip injury. If Lawson can remain healthy, however, look for him to be a force on the Auburn front four. Lawson has accumulated 37 tackles (19 solo, 18 assisted), 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, and two forced fumbles in 18 games so far in his career. His best performance in 2015 came against the Louisville Cardinals where Lawson registered four assisted tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack in a 31-24 victory. Look for Lawson to be Auburn’s anchor on defense this season as he looks to stay healthy and contribute.
Tyquan Lewis is on the Bednarik Award watch list this season and for good reason. Lewis returns despite six Ohio State players drafted in 2015. Lewis recorded 54 tackles (31 solo, 23 assisted), 14 tackles for loss, eight sacks, and a pass defended for the Buckeyes in 2015. Lewis was seventh in the Big Ten in sacks last season. Lewis was also second on the team in tackles for loss and first on the team in sacks last season. His best performance came in their 34-27 victory over where Lewis registered 7 tackles (5 solo, 2 assisted), 3.5 tackles for loss, and a sack. Lewis recorded a tackle in every game last season for the Buckeyes in 2015, let’s see if he can keep the streak alive in 2016.
Derek Barnett was an All-SEC second team selection in 2015 for the Tennessee Volunteers. Barnett recorded 69 tackles (44 solo, 25 assisted), 12.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, a pass defended, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble last season for the Volunteers. Barnett was third in the SEC in sacks and ninth in tackles for loss. He was third on the team in tackles, second in tackles for loss, and first in sacks. His best performance last season came in Tennessee’s 27-24 victory over South Carolina, where Barnett recorded 8 tackles (7 solo, 1 assisted), two tackles for loss, and a sack. Barnett returns to what should be a very strong Tennessee defense hungry for respect in the SEC.
Jonathan Allen was a first team All-SEC selection for the Crimson Tide in 2015. Allen recorded 36 tackles (19 solo, 17 assisted), 14.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, three passes defended, and two forced fumbles. Allen was first in the SEC in sacks, fifth in tackles for loss, and ninth in fumbles forced. Allen’s best performance came in Alabama’s 41-23 victory over Texas A&M where Allen registered 5 tackles (4 solo, 1 assisted), four tackles for loss, two sacks, and a forced fumble. Look to Jonathan Allen to terrorize a lot of SEC quarterbacks on a loaded Alabama defense in 2016.
Myles Garrett was a terror for many SEC offenses in 2015. Garrett racked up 59 tackles (37 solo, 22 assisted), 19.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, two passes defended, and an interception. Garrett was second in the SEC in sacks, first in tackles for loss, first in forced fumbles. His best performance last season came in their 35-28 victory over South Carolina where Garrett registered 7 tackles (5 solo, 2 assisted), two tackles for loss, a sack, and a forced fumble. Garrett was the unsung leader for the Aggies defense last season and looks to produce at a higher rate in 2016.
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