Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The SEC's best 25 players: No. 10
By Chris Low ESPN.com
We're down to the top 10 in our countdown. This next guy finished last season on fire, and here's betting he picks up where he left off:
No. 10: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
Courtney Upshaw amassed 52 tackles and seven sacks during the 2010 season.
2010 numbers: Upshaw made 11 starts last season at "jack" linebacker and finished with 52 total tackles. He was fifth in the SEC in tackles for loss (14.5) and tied for fifth in sacks (7). His four forced fumbles tied him for second in the SEC.
Most recent ranking: Ranked No. 25 in the 2010 postseason countdown.
Making the case for Upshaw: An ankle injury slowed Upshaw during the first part of last season, but he came on to be the Crimson Tide's most feared pass-rusher off the edge. The 6-2, 265-pound senior finally got healthy toward the end of the season and was virtually unblockable in the last two games against Auburn and Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl. Upshaw had six tackles for loss, including five sacks, and forced three fumbles in those last two games. His coaches feel like that's just a glimpse of the kind of finisher he'll be off the edge this season. He's incredibly strong and has great quickness for a guy pushing 270 pounds. He's not just a pass-rusher, either, and plays the run equally well. Other defenders around the country will go into the season with more acclaim, but Upshaw has everything it takes to put together an All-America season.