We’re back with another round of our weekly countdown ranking the conference’s 25 best guys.
Through four weeks, one thing is clear: Even though six SEC teams scored 38 or more points on Saturday, defense still reigns supreme on this list, especially when it comes to defensive end and cornerback.
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
MISSED THE CUT: Fred Ross, OJ Howard, Zach Cunningham, Ryan Anderson, Austin Allen, Marquis Haynes, J’Mon Moore, Trayveon Williams, Caleb Brantley, Daniel Carlson
25. Florida WR Antonio Callaway (Last week: NR)
24. Alabama LB Tim Williams (Last week: NR)
23. Texas A&M S Justin Evans (Last week: 25)
22. LSU C Ethan Pocic (Last week: 22)
21. Ole Miss TE Evan Engram (Last week: 23)
20. Florida S Marcus Maye (Last week: 18)
19. Missouri DE Charles Harris (Last week: 19)
18. Alabama S Eddie Jackson (Last week: 17)
17. Alabama OT Cam Robinson (Last week: 14)
16. Georgia RB Nick Chubb (Last week: 6)
15. Alabama WR Calvin Ridley (Last week: 9)
14. Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk (Last week: 8)
13. Florida LB Jarrad Davis (Last week: 13)
12. Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly (Last week: 15)
11. LSU DE Arden Key (Last week: 24)
The secret’s out on Key, who as a sophomore now leads the country with 6.5 sacks. He and Rebels’ passer Chad Kelly (282 yards passing, 3 total TDs against Georgia) were the big risers this week, jumping ahead of a handful of offensive players who’ve had mostly quiet seasons to this point. Evan Engram, the SEC’s second-leading receiver, had another strong week, while Gators wideout Antonio Callaway makes his top 25 debut after catching four for 134 yards in UF’s loss to Tennessee.
SEC yards per route run leaders
Keon Hatcher, ARK, 4.29
Isaiah McKenzie, UGA, 4.03
Antonio Callaway, UF, 3.35
Dimetrios Mason, MIZ, 3.28
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) September 26, 2016
10. Tennessee DE Derek Barnett (Last week: 16)
In Week 4: 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 QB hurries, 1 PBU
Speaking of the Florida-Tennessee game, Barnett just turned in one of the best single-game performances of any player so far this season. He was instrumental in the Vols’ improbable comeback against the Gators, helping hold them to just 102 second-half offensive yards, and earned SEC co-Defensive Lineman of the Week honors. Barnett has consistently stood out in college — his 22 career sacks puts him third among active FBS players — and this might have been his crowning achievement to date.
“It was just Derek saying, ‘Climb on my back, I got this,’” Vols defensive coordinator Bob Shoop told FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman. “I’m not sure I’ve ever had a player take over a game quite like he did for us.”
9. Auburn DE Carl Lawson (Last week: 11)
In Week 4: 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 QB hurries
Like Barnett, Lawson was quiet in Week 3 but turned up the heat on Saturday. He made two key sacks, including one on LSU’s final drive of the game, and maintained consistent pressure all night. He’d gotten close to the big play in recent weeks, but against LSU, he was finally able to close. If the Tigers want to move past their 2-2 start, Lawson will be the biggest factor there.
8. Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey (Last week: 7)
In Week 4: 1 tackle
Unlike Kelly, Kent State’s quarterbacks didn’t test Humphrey at all this weekend. The Crimson Tide starters didn’t play a full game in this blowout, so it’s hard to take much of anything away from it.
7. LSU S Jamal Adams (Last week: 11)
In Week 4: 13 tackles, 1 QB hurry
Adams was all over the place against Auburn. He’s only missed one tackle this season and is thriving under defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. The offense is getting a much-needed reboot with Les Miles and Cam Cameron out of the picture. Whatever the rest of the season holds in store for the Tigers, Adams and that defense will be their unquestioned strength.
Look at Jamal Adams fluidity in his lower body here. In no way is he just a straight line player. pic.twitter.com/XzqpjzhxhF
— Justen Gammel (@gamscout) September 26, 2016
6. Alabama LB Reuben Foster (Last week: 10)
In Week 4: 7 tackles, 0.5 sacks
There’s a strong argument to be made that Foster has been the country’s best inside linebacker in 2016. Not that he wasn’t good last season. But another year under his belt has only made him better. Foster is the Crimson Tide’s leading tackler (29) and, according to at least one NFL scout, compares favorably to Panthers star Luke Kuechly: “Foster is going to get drafted way earlier than people expect,” he told NFL.com.
— Capstone Kid! RTR! (@capstonekid) September 26, 2016
5. LSU CB Tre’davious White (Last week: 5)
In Week 4: 2 tackles, 1 PBU
White has gotten even better as a senior and, like Adams, forms the backbone of an LSU defense that ranks No. 35 in the country. Auburn’s leading receiver on Saturday was tailback Kerryon Johnson, a fitting representation of how LSU was able to keep Sean White and his receivers largely in check. The stats below are pretty telling:
CB Tre'Davious White is having a stellar season for LSU pic.twitter.com/IqYvBrptnf
— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) September 26, 2016
4. Florida CB Jalen Tabor (Last week: 3)
In Week 4: 4 tackles, INT
The Gators defense — Tabor and Quincy Wilson, in particular — weren’t able to back up all their duck vs. truck talk on Saturday. For his part, ‘Teez’ had an up-and-down game. He was forced to miss part of the game with an apparent injury, intercepted Josh Dobbs (below) but was also beaten by Jauan Jennings on the go-ahead 67-yard touchdown pass (also below). Tabor is still one of the country’s top DBs, but that was a bad burn at a critical moment in a rivalry game.
— Only Gators .com (@onlygators) September 24, 2016
— O&W Report (@OandWReport) September 25, 2016
3. Alabama DE Jonathan Allen (Last week: 2)
In Week 4: 3 tackles
Like several of his Tide teammates, the Kent State beatdown was a quiet week statistically for Allen. But a shutout is a shutout, and No. 93 did his part. He’s still Alabama’s best player in my book.
2. Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett (Last week: 3)
In Week 4: 3 tackles, 1 TFL
Again, stats will only ever tell part of the story with Garrett. His ability to simply affect every play and how an offense prepares can’t truly be measured. However, PFF does a pretty good job of trying in this piece from Steve Palazzolo: On 142 pass rushes this season, Garrett has pressured the QB 26 times, for a rate of about 18 percent. Even more worrisome for opponents is how he’s improved against the run: His PFF grade in that category is a career-best 82.8 this season. Without question, Garrett is a special, special player.
1. LSU RB Leonard Fournette (Last week: 1)
In Week 4: 16 carries, 101 yards rushing
LSU’s offense was stagnant against Auburn, but that was no fault of Fournette. He’s picking up more than 25 percent of his yardage after contact this season. Even after missing Week 2 with an injury that may still be bothering him, he looks as good as ever. It’s too bad Fournette is stuck on an LSU team bound for some also-ran bowl game, and not the College Football Playoff.
LSU star RB Leonard Fournette carried the ball just 16 times in 18-13 loss to Auburn, but forced six missed tackles pic.twitter.com/EyEP45AnBU
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) September 25, 2016