Friday, January 11, 2013
Five SEC West defensive players to watch
By Edward Aschoff
Now that we've looked at five offensive and defensive players to keep an eye on in 2013 from the SEC Eastern Division and five offensive players from the West, it's time to look at five defensive players from the West that could have breakout seasons in 2013:
Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix had an interception in each of his final three games of the season -- including one against Notre Dame in the BCS title game.
Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: We got to know more about Clinton-Dix as the season went on for Alabama, and he only got better as the games came. After starting nine games for the Crimson Tide in 2012, Clinton-Dix is primed to have a real breakout year in 2013. He's extremely athletic and can cover so much ground in Alabama's defensive backfield and isn't afraid to get physical. He notched four interceptions last fall, but with his field instincts, that number should rise in 2013.
Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas: Flowers had a solid 2012 campaign, but could have a huge 2013 for the Razorbacks. He had the duty of replacing Jake Bequette and started every game for the Hogs. He finished the year with six sacks, but 3.5 of them came in the win over Auburn. He also registered 13 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hurries. With Chris Smith coming back on the other side, Flowers should have good room to move around even more this fall. Smith's play will help relieve some pressure from Flowers, which isn't a good thing for opponents.
Kris Frost, LB, Auburn: He was expected to be a major player for the Tigers last fall after a shoulder injury cost him his 2011 season. He spent last year playing backup to Daren Bates, but with Bates leaving, Frost has a chance to make a real name for himself this fall. He has very good size and speed at outside linebacker, which should make him a real threat as a pass rusher and a run stopper. Frost could be a big-time player for new defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson.
Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU: He's called "Freak" for a reason. He's a big, barrel-chested man-child who could turn into a monster in 2013. With Bennie Logan leaving for the NFL, Johnson should get even more time in the middle for the Tigers. He started just three games in 2012, but recorded 30 total tackles with 10 going for loss and three sacks. He should be much more disruptive this year with Logan gone and could be one of the league's top defensive tackles this fall.
Channing Ward, DE, Ole Miss: He was Hugh Freeze's top recruit in his first class. Ward played in 12 games last fall, registering 21 tackles, including 1.5 for loss. He didn't register any starts in 2012, but after having a year under his belt, Ward should be much more comfortable with the college game. He's a tremendous athlete and should push for a starting job heading into the fall. He was one of the top defensive recruits in the 2012 class for a reason, and he'll be able to show more of why he garnered such high praise coming out of high school.