Sports Illustrated handed out significant praise for two SEC defensive talents.
In a piece by Joan Niesen published Thursday, Alabama cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick and LSU linebacker Arden Key were included in a list that showcased the 10 best defensive players in college football for the coming season. Fitzpatrick was No. 3, and Key came in at No. 5.
Both will play huge roles in their respective teams’ attempt to win the SEC West and reach Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. Fitzpatrick had 66 tackles, 1.5 sacks and six interceptions last season. Key was a force as well in 2016, totaling 55 tackles, 12 sacks, three passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
As usual, the LSU-Alabama game this fall will be a fascinating showdown that should go a long way in determining the SEC West race. The teams meet Nov. 4 in Tuscaloosa. Last year, the Crimson Tide handled the Tigers 10-0 in Baton Rouge as part of Alabama’s run to a third consecutive SEC title.
It will be fun to see how Fitzpatrick and Key impact their programs’ seasons.