Each year there are elite players in college football on both sides of the ball. In a year where Geno Smith has threw 8 touchdowns in one game. Or when Manti Te’o took the field after losing his grandmother and girlfriend and had two interceptions and 12 tackles. The game is remarkable, and that in itself will propel players to a new level of dominance and success. These five men right now represent the pinnacle of technique, statistical dominance, and intimidation. Furthermore, they are names that will one day appear on Sunday as players for professional teams across America, and perhaps go onto achieve new heights.In college football, being an elite defender carries a lot of implications. The following players have exemplified that on the field of play they deserve to be respected, but furthermore, they deserve to be feared.
- 1. Jadaveon Clowney, Defensive End, University of South Carolina- As a star defensive end coming out of high school, Clowney was quickly declared an “elite” prospect. His incredible culmination of size, speed, and technique has been torching the SEC the past two years, and his latest victim, Georgia can attest to his presence. His 4 tackles and 1 sack don’t scratch the surface of all Clowney contributes to a game. Quick off the line, and blessed with incredible reach, Clowney has been manhandling offensive tackles all season, and his stats do not attest to his credibility. Teams have found a solution to Clowney, stay away from him… as long as you can. In a conference like the SEC, this guy isn’t playing second rate competition either, he’s in the big leagues.
- 2. Manti Te’o, Linebacker, University of Notre Dame- The man has been single handedly dubbed by Sports Illustrated as the man who “restored the shine to the Golden Dome.” Te’o’s expectations at Notre Dame have been nothing short of unreasonable, yet through his tumultuous tenure, he has emerged as the top linebacker in college football. Setting the tone for a mean Notre Dame defense, Te’o often looks like a mad man running frantically from sideline to sideline. His reputation as a brutal tackler and athletic freak make him a dominant force. This season alone, this senior captain has racked up 48 tackles and 3 interceptions on one of college football’s premiere defenses.
- Jarvis Jones, Linebacker, University of Georgia- If it wasn’t for his team’s underwhelming performance against South Carolina last weekend, Jones might top this list. Offenses beware; this man is an absolute nightmare to deal with on the offensive end. Through 5 games, Jones has 6 sacks and 37 tackles, and the psychological damage he inflicts is maniacal. Jones’ 6’3, 240 pound frame makes him look like a midsized sedan when he chases down opposing quarterbacks. In the eyes of NFL scouts, who are obviously salivating over his talent, this man possesses the instinct of Ray Lewis and the hitting ability of Urlacher. He’s an absolute monster, and even with one loss under his belt, expect him to make big waves in college football.
- 3. Star Lotulelei, Nose Tackle, University of Utah- In a 3-4 defensive scheme, anyone can serve as a body on the line. However, it takes a grown man to plug the middle, stop the run, and create havoc. Star Lotulelei, may have gone underneath the radar in high school, but this diamond in the rough has many scouts salivating. His athletic ability and pure strength are unrivaled in college football. Although his numbers and team may not speak volumes about the force he is on the field, Lotulelei is an agent of chaos on the defensive line, nonetheless.
- 4. Bjorn Werner, Defensive End, Florida State- Topping off our list is a German born immigrant who found a passion for football (American of course). With 6.5 sacks through 5 games, Bjorn Werner is one man opposing quarterback’s can expect to see in their faces come game time. Credited, as being one of the most disruptive forces in the SEC is a great personal feat in itself. Last week however, Werner’s numbers were put at a standstill, in a loss to NC State Bjorn was largely absent. This man can carry a team, or he can shudder and falter in the spotlight. His reputation precedes him as a headhunter, who is a bit weak against the run, but that can be taught. The instincts and skill set are present, and NFL teams will definitely keep an eye on the one, some FSU fans have dubbed, The Kaiser.