Below are the SEC’s top 5 linebackers heading into next year.
1) Dylan Moses — Alabama
While he spent his junior season on the sideline due to injury, Moses is healthy and ready to lead the Crimson Tide defense this fall. Moses stands at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, and can play anywhere on the field. He is a student of the game with second to none athleticism. Moses can get to the quarterback, set the edge, and drop back into coverage when needed.
Moses’ most significant asset is his ability to adjust to different schemes. He is a swiss-army knife, today’s linebacker. As a sophomore, Moses posted 86 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and forced a fumble. Now an upperclassman and face of the defense, Moses’ numbers are only to increase, as he should have a career year.
2) Erroll Thompson — Mississippi State
Like Moses, Thompson prides his game on versatility. He is a hard hitter with a nose for the ball. In his 2019 campaign, Thompson accumulated 84 tackles, a career-high 38 of them being solo. A freak in the open field, Thompson finds himself in the right place at the right time.
Head coach Mike Leach will rely on Thompson as a leader. He exhibited leadership skills as a junior and should do the same as a senior in 2020.
3) Monty Rice — Georgia
Rice is a thumper with speed at inside linebacker. Of the five on this list, he has the quickest first step. He is fresh off an impactful junior season. In 2019, Rice recorded 89 total tackles, 50 being solo.
Under the stewardship of head coach Kirby Smart, a defensive savant, Rice continues to shine. He is the critical element of Georgia’s defense and should show no signs of slowing down. Look for Rice to post north of 100 tackles as a senior.
4) Nick Bolton — Mizzou
At six-foot, 232 pounds, Bolton is a flat out monster. One could make an argument that he belongs first on this list. Bolton’s 2019 stats were more than respectable. He collected 107 total tackles, 74 solos, 7.5 for loss. Bolton added two interceptions and broke up ten passes.
He is a freak athlete, a one-man wrecking crew with a nonstop motor. Bolton is opportunistic and a risk-taker. He is fit for the modern game. Given his ability to read the quarterback’s eyes, Bolton’s interception total should skyrocket.
5) Ernest Jones — South Carolina
Jones is a gifted athlete. He is a consistent tackler and unafraid to lead the Gamecocks defense. Jones posted 97 tackles 2019. Coincidentally, like Bolton, he also added two interceptions.
Jones’ multitude of skills, including speed and agility make him an immediate threat. Expect Jones to make his presence felt early and have an impressive 2020.
For the Bulldogs, Thompson must take the reigns and impose his will on the opposition. Look for him to do so throughout the season.