The Southeastern Conference has dominated the linebacker position of late. Not only have the last three winners of the Butkus Award come from the league, but Alabama by itself has had three winners since 2009.
If Terrell Lewis comes back strong after missing most of the last two seasons due to injuries, Alabama is again the class of the conference. Dylan Moses might be this year’s Butkus favorite, and Anfernee Jennings looked better as last season progressed, when he was coming off a torn ACL.
There’s depth on the outside with Eyabi Anoma and Chris Allen (also coming off an ACL) expected to contribute as pass rushers, but no one proven in the interior after Moses.
LSU returns junior Jacob Phillips and senior Michael Divinity, with Patrick Queen a breakout candidate. The player to watch, though, is K’Lavon Chaisson, a playmaker who blew out his knee early last season.
Juniors Erroll Thompson and Willie Gay and senior Leo Lewis will be defensive anchors for Mississippi State.
It’s impossible for Kentucky to replace a player like Josh Allen, but keep an eye out of Chris Oats, who might be the unit’s next standout player.
Otherwise, a lot of teams have a lot of questions, like Texas A&M having to find replacements for last season’s top six tacklers.
The linebacker spots are the biggest concern at places like Auburn, Georgia and Texas A&M so a team like Tennessee might end up with one of the better units in the SEC East if some young players contribute immediately and quickly acclimate.
Teams to watch: Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn
This is the third story in a summer Friday series, ranking the top SEC teams position by position.