Best Defensive Lines in the SEC (2013 Season)
by Jesse Perkins
It is no surprise the best defensive lines in the nation belong to the SEC. College Football's top conference has made its presence known dominating the trenches in recent seasons. However, Florida, Ole Miss and South Carolina have separated themselves from the rest of the pack in terms of talent, depth and experience.
If you thought that we have seen the best of Will Muschamp's defense, think again. Returning for the 2013 season will be his deepest and most talented defensive line since coming to Gainesville. Junior College stud Darious Cummings will join Dominique Easley, Leon Orr, Damien Jacobs, Caleb Brantley and Joey Ivy on the inside. The defensive end position will play host to Dante Fowler and Jonathan Bullard. Ronald Powell will also return from his injury last season, to bring the Gators even more experience. What little star power the Gator front four may or may not lack, the depth chart makes up for, ten-fold.
Oxford, MS will house one of the best front lines in recent years at Ole Miss. The Rebel defense were among the league's best in tackles for loss, and sacks last season in Hugh Freeze's first year. Returning from that particular line will be Junior C.J. Johnson, Sophomore studs Channing Ward and Isaac Gross, and let's not forget the additions of Robert Nkemdiche and Lavon Hooks. Nkemdiche, being the #1 HS recruit in the nation, and Hooks being the #1 JUCO recruit in the nation, respectively. The unit as a whole could be deeper, but there is no better starting four in the conference. Look for the Rebels to maintain one of the nation's best pass rush defenses in the coming season.
South Carolina will field arguably the best defensive line in the conference in the upcoming season. Sure, it may seem top-heavy with a Heisman contender in Jadeveon Clowney, but that should only be a testament of his ability which is head-and-shoulders above most everyone else. Clowney obviously led the Gamecock defensive line with 13.0 sacks and 28.5 tackles for loss last season, but there are more names than his which we will become accustomed to at the end of August.
Two other starters will be returning alongside Clowney, Chaz Sutton and Kelcy Quarles. The trio's production helped to put South Carolina at the top of the SEC in sacks in 2012. Opposing quarterbacks will yet again be in for a very long year with a potential Heisman finalist on the other side.