Below are the SEC’s top 5 defensive linemen heading into next year.
1) Big Kat Bryant — Auburn
At 6-foot-5, 247 pounds, Bryant is a one-man wrecking crew and will be the face of Auburn’s new and revamped defensive line. Now a senior, He will also be looked to as a leader and mentor.
Bryant can shed off blocks and quickly get into the backfield. He is made for today’s game, as his monstrous 2019 performance against Oregon spoke volumes. Bryant recorded two tackles, half a sack, and a fumble recovery that went for 83 yards. Expect a career year.
2) Aaron Sterling — South Carolina
Sterling’s 2019 stat line speaks for itself. The star lineman had 40 total tackles, 10 for loss, six sacks, a forced fumble, and one recovered. Sterling is the anchor of the Gamecocks defense. He boasts a quick first step and is often in the right place at the right time.
Like Bryant, Sterling must embrace being in a leadership role and vocal locker room presence. Look for him to do so and lead South Carolina to a respectable record.
3) Malik Herring — Georgia
A well-known name throughout the SEC, Herring is as imposing as defenders come. Able to set the edge, he is not afraid to take risks. Herring has lightning speed and can be a factor in both the running and passing games.
15 of Herring’s 26 tackles in 2019 were solo. He has a nose for the ball and takes advantage of the spotlight. Herring should make an immediate impact come fall.
4) Marquiss Spencer - Mississippi State
Of the five names on this list, Spencer is the sure wild card. As Mississippi State is a staple for defensive linemen, Spencer is the next star in the making. 2019 was his breakout season. Spencer recorded 37 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and two sacks.
The Bulldogs are on the upswing and should elevate in the standings. If they do so, it will be in large part due to Spencer’s play.
4) DeMarvin Leal
A versatile lineman who can adjust to multiple schemes is rare, as Leal fits the bill. Leal stands 6-foot-4, 290 pounds. He is a student of the game and can play anywhere along the line.
Leal had 38 tackles in 2019. That number should go up along with his playing time.
As it pertains to the Bulldogs, Spencer’s name will be called more often than not. He is a gamechanger and will make his presence felt throughout the season.