Five Breakout Defensive Players in the SEC

In a conference known for defensive football, there are always players that burst onto the scene. This year will be no different in the SEC.

5. LSU defensive end Chancey Aghayere- The Tigers desperately need a pass rush this season. They had only 21 sacks last season. Defensive end Rahim Alem led the team with 4.5 sacks, but he graduated after the season.

Aghayere will have every opportunity to start for the Tigers. He recorded only one sack and two tackles for loss in three starts last season, but with more consistent playing time will come better results. The 6-4, 263-pound defensive end has the size to play inside or outside for the Tigers, but his pass rush skills will be the most important.

4. Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo- The sophomore is a guaranteed starter at safety for the Bulldogs, with the other spot being open. Rambo saw spot playing time in 2009, recording 20 tackles and two interceptions, one that he returned for a touchdown.

Rambo was a playmaker when he was on the field. He didn't see the field in four games last season, including the game against Florida, but he made his presence felt whenever he was on the field. The Georgia secondary will be the main concern on the defensive side of the football, but Rambo being a household name would make it easier on everyone else.

3. Florida defensive tackle Jay Howard- The redshirt junior will be Florida's pass rush threat from the interior of the defensive line. The Gators return their two-deep at defensive tackle, but they will also add two of the top three high school defensive linemen from last year in Dominique Easley and Sharif Floyd.

Howard has drawn rave reviews from the offseason workouts and has himself in shape for a breakout season. The Gators lost both starting defensive ends from 2009, and the pass rush is a department that will need improving throughout the fall.

Howard had 1.5 sacks and three tackles for loss in 2009. This should be the season he becomes well known in the SEC.

2. South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore- As a freshman, Gilmore was fifth on the Gamecocks defense in tackles. He recorded only one interception but notched six tackles for loss, three sacks, eight pass breakups and two forced fumbles and recoveries.

Needless to say, he was everywhere. He played almost every position on the field in high school, and the athlete is now beginning to harness his skills in coverage. He was somewhat tentative as a freshman since it was his first year learning the defense. He drew rave reviews in spring practice after being accustomed to his role on defense.

Gilmore will also get snaps on offense this fall. He played quarterback in high school, so he is used to throwing the football, but his main role looks to be as a wildcat quarterback.

1. Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus- The junior defensive lineman came onto the national radar during the BCS National Championship Game against Texas when he returned an intercepted shovel pass for a touchdown. He started only four games during the season, but still managed to record 6.5 sacks.

Dareus is 6-3, 306 pounds, but he will be the top pass rush threat on the Crimson Tide defense this fall.

The interception Dareus returned for a touchdown in the National Championship game may have put him on the radar, but the 2010 season he puts together will make him a household name.
Follow Cody Jones on

Fightin Gators Top Stories