Greg Middleton, Indiana-Middleton, just a sophomore last season, led the nation in sacks with 16 after recording 6 tackles during his freshman season. The 6'3, 275 pounder was part of a Hoosier's defense that set a school record with 42 sacks in 2007 and he should again be a defensive stopper
in 2008. A first team Big Ten selection last season, Middleton should contend for first team All-American while helping the Hoosiers reach a bowl game.
Greg Hardy, Ole Miss-A first team All-SEC selection last year, Hardy harassed SEC QBs all season while recording 10 sacks. Hardy has future NFL first round draft pick written all over himself with his talent and should again have an excellent season rushing the QB for Ole Miss.
Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma-This prep phenom is living up to his billing coming out of high school as the #1 defensive tackle by earning Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year last year. He should team up with fellow tackle DeMarcus Granger to form the best defensive tackle tandem in the college game. McCoy could become the best defensive linemen to ever play for the Sooners with his tremendous power and speed from the interior.
Terrance Taylor, Michigan-The Wolverines know how to produce quality defensive tackles and Taylor is just the latest in a long line. A second team Big Ten selection last year, Taylor started all 13 games and recorded 55 tackles with 8.5 for loss. Honestly he could be the one bright spot on a horrible Michigan team this year.
Rico McCoy, Tennessee-Teamed up with 1st round draft pick Jerod Mayo last year, McCoy demolished the opposition with 106 total tackles while be selected for second team All-SEC. With Mayo gone expect McCoy, a junior, to be a beast and the leading tackler for an underrated Vols squad...
Marcus Freeman, Ohio State-Everybody talks about the Little Animal with good reason but not many people know that Freeman led the Buckeye's linebackers in tackles for loss with 8 and passes broken up with 5 while making 109 tackles, good for second on the team. Freeman earned 2nd Team Big-Ten last year but the senior has a good chance of earning All-American status with another solid season on the National Championship contending Buckeyes.
Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina-Jasper, the more talented of the Brinkley twins, is back after missing the second half of the season with a knee injury. Before he was injured Jasper was straight up murdering the offense after earning first team SEC honors in 2006. I'm banking on him returning healthy this season and proving why he is one of the best middle linebackers in the game. If you are a QB you might want to run out of bounds or take a slide...
Scott McKillop, Pittsburgh-McKillop led the college game last year in tackles per game (12.6) and total tackles (151) while breaking up 7 passes. Despite these incredible stats he only received third team All-American honors. Pitt is being picked as one of the surprise teams out of the Big East this year and if they expect to compete for a bowl game they will need McKillop to again be a terror between the white lines.
Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest-Only 5'9, Smith was a second team All-American selection while breaking up 17 passes and grabbing 8 interceptions. He comes back with a defense that returns 9 of 11 starters and again should be a leading candidate for 1st team selection. The only thing he needs to work on is his dance moves...
Asher Allen, Georgia-One of the most underrated players in the SEC, Asher can fly with his 4.33 speed and cover with the best of them. He had 3 INTs last year while breaking up 5 passes and should turn into a lockdown corner for the Dawgs this season.
Eric Berry, Tennessee-Just a true freshman last season, Berry started all 14 games for the Vols and could easily be the most talented defensive player in the SEC. Berry was all over the field last year playing ball hawk with 5 INTs and 86 tackles. Expect those numbers to increase this season and don't be surprised if Coach Fulmer uses him on offense.
William Moore, Missouri-Moore set a school record last season with 8 INTs. A second team All-American last year, expect Moore to again be a leader for a defense that returns 8 starters and should be good enough to get Mizzou to a BCS game which they should have earned last season.
Coming Wednesday: 2nd Team Preseason Defensive All-American Team