SMT Predictions: Top SEC Defensive Ends of 2014


Dante Fowler, Junior, Florida: Dante Fowler plays one of the more unique positions in all of college football. In the Gators’ modified 4-3 alignment defense, the titled “buck” position, Fowler’s role within Florida’s defensive scheme, is a hybrid defensive end and outside linebacker. Fowler’s talents are versatile enough to be a force in the run game and excellent at rushing the passer. Florida has produced it’s fair share of big play performers on defense in recent years, look for the 6-3, 266lbs Fowler, who already has an NFL body, to explode this season after racking up a team high tackle for a loss as a sophomore.

Trey Flowers, Senior, Arkansas: Razorbacks’ Trey Flower will be the focus of opposing blocking schemes as All-SEC defensive end Chris Smith entered the 2014 NFL Draft, but the 6-4, 265lbs Flowers has already proven that he’s a difference-maker regardless. Flowers had five sacks and three forced fumbles a season ago, and projects as a 1st Team All-SEC player after decided to come back to Arkansas for his senior season.


Bud Dupree, Senior, Kentucky: Having successfully made the transition from a 3-4 outside linebacker to a 4-3 defensive end last season, the 6-4, 265lbs Dupree has been a force off the edge the past two seasons, no matter the scheme. Dupree is the definition of consistency, as he has made at least three tackles in each of the 26 games he’s played during his college career. Dupree and fellow Kentucky defensive end Za’Darius Smith (detailed below) will be a nightmare for opposing offensive coordinators and quarterbacks.

Markus Golden, Senior, Missouri: Missouri will continue the tradition of producing All-Conference defensive linemen in 2014, with the defensive end combo of Markus Golden and Shane Ray. The 6-3, 260lbs Markus Golden only played about 50 percent of the available snaps last season, but still managed to lead the Missouri defensive ends with 55 total tackles and was third to Michael Sam and Kony Ealy with 13 tackles for loss.


Danielle Hunter, Junior, LSU: Danielle Hunter has an enormous wing span that makes him a nightmare for opposing offensive tackles and quarterbacks. At 6-6, 255lbs, Hunter came into his own late last season with three sacks. Look for those numbers to soar in 2014, as Danielle Hunter is poised to be LSU’s next All-Conference defensive end.

Shane Ray, Junior, Missouri: Similar to his defensive end partner in crime Markus Golden, Shane Ray was also a reserve on the overly talented Missouri defensive line a year ago, but still was productive in limited snaps. Ray finished second on the team with 11 quarterback pressures and also collected nine tackles for loss. The 6-3, 245lbs Ray is an athlete and has blazing speed off the edge, a benefit in the spread offenses of the SEC.


Za’Darius Smith, Senior, Kentucky: The other half of Kentucky’s talented defensive end duo, the 6-6, 265lbs Za’Darius Smith made a big impact a year ago after transferring to Lexington from junior college. Za’Darius Smith finished 2013 with six sacks and had a sack or tackle for loss in six conference games. Junior college players typically make a big jump in their second year in the program, which means Smith could really take off in 2014, especially with Dupree demanding double teams on the other side of the defensive line.

C.J. Johnson, Junior, Ole Miss: The 6-2, 237lbs C.J. Johnson was on his way to an All-Conference season a year ago until an ankle injury sidelined him for the entire 2013 season. Johnson had four tackles for loss in his first four games of 2013 and, as a sophomore in 2012, led the team with 6.5 sacks. The biggest hurdle for Johnson has been avoiding injuries. But if he stays healthy, he’ll make a ton of big plays for the Rebels this season.


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SMT: Conference Cross Divisional Rivals – SEC Teams

New Cross Divisional Rivals In the SEC: In 2014 the Southeastern Conference schedule will launch two new permanent rivalries, Texas A&M versus South Carolina, and Missouri against Arkansas. The Aggies will play in the opening Thursday night game at the Gamecocks’ Brice Williams Stadium and the Razorbacks will play in Columbia, Missouri in their final regular season game. The Southeastern Conference planned to create these cross-divisional rivalry games upon A&M and Missouri’s entrance into the SEC in 2013, but balked on that plan due to difficulty of finding good games for both schools on the final weekend of the regular season. The SEC’s current cross-divisional games are:


  1. Florida vs. LSU – Saturday, October 11th
  2. Alabama vs.Tennessee – Saturday, October 25th
  3. Auburn vs. Georgia – Saturday, November 15th
  4. Mississippi State vs. Kentucky – Saturday, October 25th
  5. Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt – Saturday, September 6th
  6. Missouri vs. Arkansas (new) – Friday, November 28th
  7. Texas A&M vs. South Carolina (new) – Thursday, August 28th

The Breakdown: The Southeastern Conference currently uses a 6-1-1 scheduling formula for its fourteen team league, six conference divisional games, one permanent cross divisional rival and one roaming cross-divisional game. Live For Saturdays.

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SMT: Southeastern Conference Recruiting Updates


Alabama Crimson Tide – Top Five Commitments of the 2015 Class

  • Minkah Fitzpatrick (6’0, 195lbs) – Jersey City, NJ – 3rd Rated CB Prospect in 2015
  • Calvin Ridley (6’1, 185lbs) – Coconut Creek, FL – 2nd Rated WR prospect in 2015
  • Richie Petitbon (6’4, 305lbs) – Washington D.C. – 2nd Rated OG prospect in 2015
  • Lester Cotton (6’4, 320lbs) – Tuscaloosa, AL – Top Rated OG prospect in 2015
  • Deionte Thompson (6’2, 175lbs) – Orange, TX – 3rd Rated FS prospect in 2015

Analysis: Yet again, Alabama is picking and choosing any prospect they covet throughout the nation. Specifically, the Crimson Tide look to be replenishing their secondary (both cornerback and safety) and interior offensive line. Still, the gem of the 2015 class is Sunshine State wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Ridley is a complete game changer that will be a household name early in his career with Amari Cooper likely leaving for the NFL early.

Auburn Tigers - Top Five Commitments of the 2015 Class

  • Jovon Robinson (6’0, 225lbs) – Memphis, TN – Top rated JUCO prospect in 2015
  • Tony Bridges (6’2, 185lbs) – Perkinston, MS – 3rd rated JUCO prospect in 2015
  • Darrrell Williams (6’3, 225lbs) – Hoover, AL – 6th rated OLB prospect in 2015
  • Ben Edwards (6’0, 195lbs) – Jacksonville, FL – 8th rated SS prospect in 2015
  • Jordan Colbert (6’2, 205lbs) – Griffin, GA – 13th rated FS prospect in 2015

Analysis: After witnessing Tre Mason redefine the spread offense, into a run-first, read option spread, it is no question Auburn has become a top destination for elite level running back prospects. Currently holding commitments from Jovon Robinson (the top JUCO running back) and Kerryon Johnson (the 5th rated high school running back prospect), the Tigers are setting themselves up nicely for future success in Malzahn’s run first spread. Add Auburn traditional recruiting success with top defensive prospects across the South and the Tigers are positioning their program for another Top Ten recruiting Class in 2015.


Arkansas - Top Five Commitments of the 2015 Class

  • Ty Storey (6’3, 210lbs) – Charleston, AR – 5th rated QB prospect in 2015
  • Jamario Bell (6’6, 235lbs) – Junction City, AR – 8th rated DE prospect in 2015
  • Hjalte Froholdt (6’6, 295lbs) – Bradenton, FL – 16th rated DT prospect in 2015
  • Zach Rogers (6’2, 305lbs) – Lewisville, TX – 2nd rated OC prospect in 2015
  • Daytrieon Dean (6’3, 269lbs) – Fort Smith, AR – 23rd rated DE prospect in 2015

Analysis: The Arkansas coaching staff has successful built a fence around their home territory, in regards to the 2015 Class. Furthermore, the Hogs are two commitments away, K.J. Hill (32nd Wide Receiver prospect in 2015) and Will Gragg (9th rated Tight End in 2015), from signing all the SEC level talent within their home region. Pick and choose a few Texas and Florida prospects, two regions the Razorback coaches have pipelines, and this will be the best recruiting class that the Bret Bielema staff has signed while at Arkansas.

Florida - Top Five Commitments of the 2015 Class

  • Jerome Baker (6’1, 205lbs) – Cleveland, OH – 3rd rated ATH prospect in 2015
  • George Brown (6’6, 265lbs) – Cincinnati, OH – 13th rated OT prospect in 2015
  • Marcus Lewis (6’0, 195lbs) – Washington, D.C. – 8th rated CB prospect in 2015
  • Sheriron Jones (6’2, 185lbs) – Moreno Valley, CA – 10th rated DQB prospect in 2015
  • Derrick Dillon (5’11, 175lbs) – Franklin, LA – 45th rated WR prospect in 2015

Analysis: You are not reading this incorrectly, the top five Gators commitments hail from areas outside the Sunshine State. A concerning trend for Florida fans. Reading into this further, one has to wonder if this concludes that prospects from the Sunshine State do not believe the Muschamp Era will last through their eligibility or the rebirth of Florida State recruiting dominance in the region (along with the continued recruiting success of LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Clemson, Alabama and Auburn). Most of the remaining top-tier uncommitted talent in Florida have the Gators in the mix for their services. The Gators coaching staff will need to land a majority of these prospect to keep Florida fans pleased.


Georgia - Top Five Commitments of the 2015 Class

  • Terry Godwin (5’11, 165lbs) – Hogansville, GA – Top rated ATH prospect in 2015
  • Natrez Patrick (6’2, 255lbs) – Atlanta, GA – 5th rated DE prospect in 2015
  • Chauncey Rivers (6’2, 260lbs) – Stone Mountain, GA – 8th rated prospect in 2015
  • Rico McGraw (6’0, 175lbs) – Nashville, TN – 15th rated FS prospect in 2015
  • Michael Chigbu (6’2, 215lbs) – New Orleans, LA – 27th rated WR prospect in 2015

Analysis: The same recruiting question is asked annually by fans of Georgia, “How does the Peach State, land grant university keep top talent from going to Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina, Florida State, Tennessee and Ole Miss?” Although Mark Richt and company have an amazing track record for in-state recruiting battles, key prospects are still leaving for other SEC destinations, causing a zero sum gain effect in the conference. Early in the 2015 recruiting cycle the Bulldogs locked up the top Athlete prospect in the nation, Terry Godwin. If the Bulldog coaching staff can convince top defensive tackle and safety prospects, Trenton Thompson and Rashad Roundtree, to stay in-state, Mark Richt and company will have a class equivalent to their elite peers, which would be a Top 5 class.

Kentucky - Top Five Commitments of the 2015 Class

  • Eli Brown (6’2, 205lbs) – Bowling Green, KY – 10th rated OLB prospect in 2015
  • C.J. Conrad (6’6, 235lbs) – LaGrange, OH – 7th rated TE prospect in 2015
  • Darius Fullwood (6’4, 235lbs) – Olney, MD – 18th rated DE prospect in 2015
  • Luke Hiers (6’3, 295lbs) – Lake Wales, FL – 3rd rated OC prospect in 2015
  • Jordan Jones (6’2, 205lbs) – Youngstown, OH – 32nd rated OLB prospect in 2015

Analysis: The Mark Stoops coaching staff at Kentucky continues to inch into new territories to attract top talent into the northern most SEC institution. Beyond their traditional pipelines, Southern Ohio and Northern Florida, the Wildcat coaching staff has reached into the Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. region to find new talent. Top running back in the 2015 Class, Damian Harris, is found within the boundaries of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. If the Wildcat coaching staff can land the elite running back, along with a couple Florida prospects, a Top 15 Class could be found in Lexington.


LSU - Top Five Commitments of the 2015 Class

  • Kevin Toliver II (6’2, 185lbs) – Jacksonville, FL – 2nd rated CB prospect in 2015
  • Maea Teuhema (6-5, 335lbs) – Keller, TX – 3rd rated OT prospect in 2015
  • Nicholas Brossette (6’0, 215lbs) – Baton Rouge, LA – 12th rated RB prospect in 2015
  • Nicholas Brossette (5’11, 215lbs) – Baton Rouge, LA – 9th rated RB prospect in 2015
  • Xavier Lewis (5’10, 175lbs) – Reserve, LA – 25th rated CB prospect in 2015

Analysis: The Bayou Bengals are low of commitments but have their hands on most, if not all of the elite level talent still available in the 2015 Class. Still having the top offensive tackle (Maea Teuhema) and top cornerback (Kevin Toliver II) prospects already on-board, along with two hometown, high-level running back recruits, Derrius Guice and Nicholas Brossette, puts LSU in good situation. If LSU can land Louisiana wide receivers Tyron Johnson and Stanley Morgan, along with a few recruits from the Florida and the Lone Star State, the Bayou Bengals will have yet another Top 5 class in the 2015 recruiting cycle.

Mississippi State - Top Five Commitments of the 2015 Class

  • Chris Stamps (6-0, 175lbs) – Vicksburg, MS – 50th rated CB prospect in 2015
  • Malik Dear (5-7, 215lbs) – Jackson, MS – 8th rated ATH prospect in 2015
  • Jamal Peters (6’3, 205lbs) – Bassfield, MS – 4th rated SS prospect in 2015
  • Nick Gibson (5’11, 195lbs) – Pinson, AL – 11th rated RB prospect in 2015
  • Chason Virgil (6’1, 185lbs) – Mesquite, TX – 17th rated DQB prospect in 2015

Analysis: Consider yourself warned, Mississippi State is recruiting at levels not witnessed during the internet rankings era. Not only are the Bulldogs getting verbals from high level prospect across the South, the Bulldogs are going head-to-head with the hometown Rebels and winning several recruiting battles. Mississippi State’s most impressive win win to date, the verbal commitment of elite safety prospect Jamal Peters, who picked the Bulldogs over Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn and LSU. With 27 current commitments the Bulldogs are low on available 2015 scholarships. Remaining battles with Ole Miss for Mississippi prospects Leo Lewis (MLB), Javon Patterson (OL), Gabriel Campbell (DE) and Fletcher Adams (DT) will decide whether the Bulldogs stay in the Top 15 2015 recruiting rankings or fall below.


Ole Miss - Top Five Commitments of the 2015 Class

  • Ugo Amadi (5’9, 175lbs) -Nashville, TN – 14th rated CB prospect in 2015
  • Eric Swinney (5’10, 180lbs) – Tyrone, GA – 7th rated RB prospect in 2015
  • Willie Hibbler (6’6, 235lbs) – Sardis, MS – 25th rated ATH prospect in 2015
  • La’Michael Pettway (6’3, 195lbs) – Nashville, AR – 40th rated ATH prospect in 2015
  • Jay Johnson (6’3, 205lbs) – Bruce, MS – 37th rated ATH prospect in 2015

Analysis: The Rebels are short on scholarships this recruiting cycle but are still hoping on attracting some of the top prospects in the South. Beyond having their fingers in some of the best talent remaining in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida, the Rebels have several top tier prospects in the Magnolia State to attract. As mentioned in the Mississippi State break down, Mississippi prospects Leo Lewis (MLB), Javon Patterson (OL), Gabriel Campbell (DE) and Fletcher Adams (DT) are still up for grabs. Land these four in-state studs, along with possibly swaying safety Jamal Peters away from the Bulldogs, and the Rebels will have a 2015 class full of quality, even though scholarships are scarce this recruiting cycle.

South Carolina - Top Five Commitments of the 2015 Class

  • Shameik Blackshear (6’4, 255lbs) – Bluffton, SC – 4th rated DE prospect in 2015
  • Austin Clark (6’5, 295lbs) – Lexington, VA – 9th rated OT prospect in 2015
  • Mark Field (5’10, 175lbs) – Charlotte, NC – 11th rated CB prospect in 2015
  • Lorenzo Nunez (6’2, 195lbs) – Kennesaw, GA – 6th rated DQB prospect in 2015
  • Arden Key (6’6, 225lbs) – Atanta, GA – 12th rated DE prospect in 2015

Analysis: The Gamecocks have to be the surprise of the 2015 recruiting cycle. Currently sitting with the 3rd best recruiting class in the nation, South Carolina has transitioned itself from lovable overachiever to recruiting powerhouse. Having opened pipelines in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland, the Gamecocks are picking and choosing their desired prospects across the country. With two remaining elite prospects within the Palmetto State uncommitted, defensive end Albert Huggins (5th rated defensive end prospect) and offensive guard Zack Bailey (5th rated offensive guard prospect), the Gamecocks are positioning for a Top 10 Class in the 2015 recruiting cycle.


Texas A&M - Top Five Commitments of the 2015 Class

  • Justin Dunning (6’3, 195lbs) -Whitehouse, TX – 9th rated SS prospect in 2015
  • Kyler Murray (5’11, 170lbs) -Allen, TX – 2nd rated DT-QB prospect in 2015
  • Daylon Mack (6’0, 310lbs) – Gladewater, TX – 6th rated DT prospect in 2015
  • Larry Pryor (5-11, 195lbs) – Sulphur Springs, TX – 6th rated SS prospect in 2015
  • Jay Bradford (5’11, 195lbs) – Splendora, Texas  - 25th ranked RB prospect in 2015

Analysis: For a team that has been known for offense during the Sumlin Era, the Aggies coaching staff continue to accumulate key defensive recruits from the Lone Star State. Current commitments, defensive tackles Justin Manning and Daylon Mack, are upper level SEC trench warriors, that are traditionally found suiting up for Alabama, Auburn and LSU. Add uncommitted outside linebacker prospect and Texas A&M lean Malik Jefferson and the Aggies are going to once again assembling a Top 5 recruiting class in the 2015 cycle.


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SMT: Could Former LSU WR Be a Fantasy Football Steal?


Former LSU WR, Jarvis Landry, a Fantasy Football Hero in 2014? SEC fans already know what the NFL will soon be discovering. Current Miami Dolphin and former LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry can flat out produce. Possessing neither elite speed or agility, Landry is an old-school wide receiver that is going to defeat defensive backs through pin-point route running, precise body control and elite pass catching. Actually, we are underselling his hand strength, as current LSU offensive coordinator and former Ravens coordinator Cam Cameron stated Landry had some of the best mitts the long time coach had ever witnessed. Landry could be the steal of the 2014 NFL Draft, in regards to fantasy football potential, and might be the final piece to of the Fins’ offensive puzzle.

Dolphins WR Depth Chart: Anyone who watched the Dolphins in 2014 realizes Miami struggled at the slot position last year, mainly due to inconsistency at the receiver position and injuries from Brandon Gibson. With Landry taking most of the snaps at the X receiver (slot receiver) during spring OTA’s and summer workouts, it is foreseeable that Jarvis Landry could be an opening game starter. Moreover, with the speedy Mike Wallace, the dependable Brian Hartline at the outside wide receiver positions, forcing safeties play deeper than usual, Landry should have the opportunity to get behind slower linebackers in coverage and open the middle of the field and sidelines for Miami quarterback Ryan Tannelhill. Finally, last season the LSU standout had 77 receptions for 1,193 yards and ten touchdowns, if Landry can have half of this production from his senior year, the Dolphins will have one of the more dangerous receiver units in the NFL this upcoming season.

Other 2014 NFL Draft Selections from the SEC that will be great fantasy football picks:

  • Jordan Matthews (Eagles) – After trading DeSean Jackson within the division to the Redskins, with Jeremy Maclin’s inability to stay healthy and Riley Cooper’s mental instability, someone on the Eagles’ wide receiver depth chart will accumulate solid statistics in Chip Kelly’s high powered offense. Our man for the job, Jordan Matthews. The former Vanderbilt Commodore and the SEC’s all time leading pass catcher Jordan Matthews, will be the benefactor of great opportunity to catch passes in Philadelphia.
  • Donte Moncrief (Colts) – Much like his predecessor at quarterback in Indianapolis, Andrew Luck elevates average NFL wide receivers into All-Pro players. Is there a better example of Luck’s greatness than the play of Colts’ slot wide receiver Ty Hilton over the past two season? Moreover, with an aging Reggie Wayne coming off injury, former Volunteer Da’Rick Rogers still not developing into his potential and Hakeem Nicks years away from his All-Pro days, former Ole Miss wide receiver and 2014 Colts’ Draft selection, Donte Moncrief, should have a great opportunity to battle Ty Hilton for catches in 2014. Given Moncrief’s 6-3 stature, above average speed for his size and great hands, Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano will find a manner to use this weapon.


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SMT: Names to Know in the Southeastern Conference in 2014


Shaq Roland, South Carolina, Junior. Shaq Roland, one of the most heralded high school wide receivers to ever hail from the Palmetto State, hopes this fall will be the season that fulfills his prophecy as the best receiver to suit up for the Gamecocks since Alshon Jeffrey. After a lackluster 2013 campaign, which saw him accumulate 25 catches for 455 yards and five touchdowns (mostly all against North Carolina), high roster turnover and uncertain depth, point towards Roland having the opportunity to become South Carolina’s most targeted pass catcher. Also, now that Bruce Ellington has departed for the 49ers, Roland is the only elite speedster, Gamecock first year starting quarterback Dylan Thompson has at his disposal. The 6-1, 195lbs, former Mr. Football in South Carolina, Roland should have his coming out party in 2014 and make his mark on the SEC.

Reggie Ragland, Alabama, Junior: Alabama’s Reggie Ragland projects to be another SEC player poised to become a household name in 2014, as he opens this season as the odds on favorite to starter next to returning starter and preseason All-SEC linebacker Trey DePriest. Ragland, who won the majority of snaps during spring practice will still have to preform at a high level this summer to keep former blue chip linebacker Reuben Foster from pushing up the linebacker depth chart. Such competition has traditionally drawn the best out of Crimson Tide defensive players in the past and should do the same for Ragland.

La’el Collins, LSU, Senior: The LSU coaching staff received an early 2014 Christmas present this past April, when La’el Collins, a sure fire first or second round 2014 NFL Draft selection, opted to return for his senior season and anchor what stands to be one of the best offensive lines in the SEC. Among vast array of very talented SEC offensive linemen, La’el Collins seems as likely as any to shoot up 2015 NFL draft boards, much like Auburn’s Greg Robinson did a year ago, and become a millionaire this time next year. Last, Collins has the rare mixture of size (6-5, 325lbs) to dominate at the line of scrimmage and the athleticism needed to get NFL general managers ready mortgage their futures for his services.


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SMT Reports: Legendary Bars & Restaurants of the SEC

Top Destinations at Each Southeastern Conference University: The culture of the Southeastern Conference is second to none in the landscape of college football. A small part of the tradition that drives the culture of each member institution are the local, but legendary restaurants and bars in each SEC town or city. Below you will find a few of the unique stops each SEC die-hard fan should visit in their lifetime. Live For Saturdays…

University of Missouri  - Harpo’s

Texas A&M University – The Dixie Chicken

University of Kentucky –  The World Famous Two Keys

University of Florida – The Swamp Bar

University of Alabama – Houndstooth Sports Bar

University of Mississippi – The Library

Auburn University – The War Eagle Supper Club

Louisiana State University – Walk Ons Bar

Arkansas University – Foghorn’s

University of Georgia – The Nowhere Bar

Vanderbilt University – The Flying Saucer

University of Tennessee – The Hill

Mississippi State University – Cowbell’s Sport Grill

University of South Carolina – Sharky’s Bar

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SMT: Ranking the SEC’s 2014 Football Uniforms

The SEC’s Top Uniforms: Recently Athlon Sports ranked the uniforms of all fourteen Southeastern Conference teams. Needless to say, the distinguished gentlemen of Saturday Morning Tailgate did not agree with their assessment. Below are the correct rankings:

1.) Texas A&M University – The Aggies


2.) Louisiana State University – The Bayou Bengals


3.) University of South Carolina – The Gamecocks


4.) University of Tennessee – The Volunteers


5.) University of Alabama – The Crimson Tide


6.) University of Florida – The Gators


7.) Auburn University – The Fighting War Eagles


8.) University of Georgia – The Bulldogs


9.) University of Mississippi – Rebels, Rebel Black Bears, Colonel Ackbars


10.) University of Missouri – The Midwestern Tigers


11.) University of Kentucky – The Wildcats


12.) University of Arkansas – The Razorbacks


13.) Vanderbilt University – The Commodores, Fighting Lionel Richies’


14.) Mississippi State University – The Bulldogs


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SMT Predictions: Top SEC Safeties of 2014


The SEC’s 2014 Safeties – All-American Candidates

Landon Collins, So., Alabama: In the day and age when rapid college football fans study recruiting websites like it’s their job, the SEC nation has known Landon Collins since he turned down hometown LSU (against his mother’s wishes) on national television, picking the Crimson Tide instead. Moreover, despite starting only nine games in 2013, Collins led the team in passes deflected and finished second in total tackles. Now in his first season as a full-time starter, the heavy hitter and glorified ball hawk, Landon Collins could easily develop into an All-American with a strong junior season.

Cody PrewittSr., Ole Miss: On a defense loaded with highly touted recruits, such as Robert Nkemdiche, it was Cody Prewitt, a softly recruited junior safety from a small Mississippi town, that stood out as the best player on the Rebels defense last season. The 6-2, 215lbs safety showed he was the complete package in 2013, as he led the SEC with six interceptions and was a first team All-America selection. Now a senior, Prewitt will be the leader and clear cut face of the Ole Miss defense next season.

The SEC’s 2014 Safeties - All-Conference Candidates


Tony Conner, So., Ole Miss: Tony Conner, along with High School All-American Robert Nkemdiche, were the two bookends to the Ole Miss 2013 signing class that made the SEC recognize the Rebels and their return to conference relevance. Conner, a four-star safety prospect coming out of high school, was an immediate impact member of the secondary for Ole Miss, playing in all 12 games and earning Freshman All-America honors. Moving toward 2014, Conner will try to improve on his 66 tackles, one interception and seven passes defended and become an All-SEC player, joining fellow safety Cody Prewitt.

Ronald Martin, Sr., LSU: Ronald Martin moves toward the 2014 season as the starting LSU strong safety, due to a strong finish in 2013, a stellar spring practice showing and the arrested/suspension of senior safety Jalen Mills. No matter the circumstances of his starting position, expect a big senior season from Martin, as he takes over for All-SEC safety Craig Loston at strong safety. Martin’s 6-1, 215lbs frame should come in handy in run support, as LSU uses more nickel and dime packages against SEC spread offenses.

Justin Cox, Sr., Mississippi State: After transferring from a junior college last summer, Justin Cox did not get up to speed with the Mississippi State defensive philosophy until late in the 2013 season. After starting at cornerback in summer 2013, the upcoming senior found a home at safety and is projected to be a key player for the Bulldog’s defense. Using his 6-3, 210lbs frame to his advantage in zone coverage and run support, Cox should be another key piece to a very underrated secondary in Starkville.


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