As defense wins championships, five individuals look to lead their team to the promised land.
1) Derek Stingley Jr. — LSU
Stingley Jr. is a pure lockdown corner through and through. Able to lock down an entire side of the field, Stingley Jr.’s six interceptions and 21 pass breakups last season spoke volumes.
Stingley Jr. is at the forefront of LSU’s defensive backfield, also known as DBU. A speedster and skywalker, look for Stingley Jr., to post north of 10 interceptions this year and further make his name known.
2) Parick Surtain II — Alabama
Son of former star NFL corner Patrick Surtain, a standout for the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs, Surtain II has grown into one of the SEC’s best defensive backs, neck, and neck with Stingley Jr. At 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, Surtain II can match up with the SEC’s best wideouts. He is a pure athlete who will take risks. His number should be called frequently in 2020.
3) Nick Bolton — Mizzou
Bolton jumped out of the gate, having made his name from the getgo in 2019. With 107 total tackles, 74 solos, he was a monster in the open field. Look for him to show no signs of slowing down and eclipse his 2019 total of two interceptions and 10 broken up passes.
Built for today’s game, Bolton is lightning quick. His speed and agility separate him from the norm. A senior NFL ready talent, expect Bolton to have his best year in a Tiger uniform.
4) Dylan Moses — Alabama
While a season-ending injury eliminated his 2019 campaign, there is no denying Moses’ skillset when looking back to 2018. He posted 86 total tackles, 45 solos.
Having proven himself as a sophomore, Moses is next in line to be the Crimson Tide’s leading linebacker. Given his versatility and leadership, there is no reason to believe he will come up short.
5) Erroll Thompson — Mississippi State
The Bulldogs defense’s face and quarterback, Thompson is a hard-hitting linebacker who can be a factor in both the running and passing game. His timing, combined with an ability to drop back into coverage, make him an immediate threat, one that the opposition must account for sooner rather than later.
Thompson’s presence both on and off the field added a swagger in 2019 and will be apparent throughout this season. Expect Thompson to top his 2019 total of 84 tackles. He should add a few interceptions, get to the quarterback, and force more fumbles.
While Mississippi State has the requisite defensive weapons to make a statement, Thompson must come up big consistently for the Bulldogs to add to their win column.