GN continues its countdown of the SEC’s top 50 players this season; we’re unveiling one player per day until we reach the No. 1 guy.
“Top” doesn’t necessarily mean the most pro potential or even the most sheer talent. Instead, it’s a mix of what the player has accomplished and what we think the player will accomplish this season. Production does trump potential, though.
Every school has at least one player in the top 50.
34. Georgia S Dominick Sanders
Particulars: 6 feet 0, 193 pounds, senior
Recruiting background: 3-star prospect in 2014 signing class, from Tucker (Ga.) High
The skinny: Sanders is an example of an unheralded recruit who has become a star. He was a starter from the moment he stepped on campus, and is a big-time ballhawk. He has 12 career interceptions, which is four shy of the school’s career record held by Jake Scott and Bacarri Rambo (his first pick this season will tie him with his coach; Kirby Smart had 13 picks in his Bulldogs career). Sanders has excellent instincts and also has 18 pass breakups and three fumble recoveries. He slumped a bit last season and is looking to regain his sophomore-season form. Sanders has the ability to contend for All-America honors.
35. Kentucky LB Jordan Jones
Particulars: 6-2, 221 pounds, junior
Recruiting background: 3-star prospect in 2015 signing class, from Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney
The skinny: UK needed some young defenders to make an impact last season, and Jones certainly did so. He played sparingly as a true freshman in 2015, then became one of the most productive defenders in the SEC last fall; he was third in the league with 109 tackles and sixth in the SEC with 15.5 tackles for loss. He also had nine quarterback hurries and four pass breakups. Jones had four games with double-digit tackles, including a 19-tackle outing against Southern Miss. Jones, who attended the same high school as UK coach Mark Stoops, has excellent instincts and good quickness. He moves well laterally and covers a lot of ground.
36. Texas A&M S Donovan Wilson
Particulars: 6-1, 200 pounds, junior
Recruiting background: 3-star prospect in 2014 signing class, from Shreveport (La.) Woodlawn
The skinny: Wilson has started 14 games the past two seasons at nickelback, but he’s expected to start at safety this season; he and Armani Watts should team up to give the Aggies one of the best safety tandems in the league – and in the nation. Wilson has six interceptions, 11 pass breakups, 141 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles in his career. He throws his body around in run support and can lay the lumber. He also is solid in coverage and has good ball skills. Wilson hasn’t received that much attention, but that will change this fall. (We’ll forgive LSU fans for wondering how Wilson would look lined up in the Tigers’ secondary.)
37. Missouri DT Terry Beckner Jr.
Particulars: 6-4, 290 pounds, junior
Recruiting background: 5-star prospect in 2015 signing class, from East St. Louis (Ill.) High
The skinny: Beckner (who will wear No. 5 this fall) was a national top-20 prospect overall in the 2015 recruiting class, and he has shown he has the ability to live up to the hype. The issue has been injuries; he suffered a knee injury late in the 2015 season and missed the final two games. He suffered another knee injury last season, and this one cost him the final five games. He returned for spring practice and was ahead of schedule with his rehab. He has 51 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and five quarterback hurries in his time on the field. Beckner is both physical and quick, and has shown the ability to slide down the line to make plays. In December, Tigers coach Barry Odom said Beckner could become “Mizzou’s best defensive lineman ever.” If he remains healthy, count on a big season this fall.
© 2016, gridironnow.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.