With Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw gone to the NFL, Alabama can’t claim the SEC’s top linebacking corps this year.

Georgia grabs the honor.

It starts with All-American OLB Jarvis Jones, who led the SEC in sacks (13.5) and tackles for loss (19.5) last year. Jones (6-3, 241) feels he still has a lot to prove despite his breakout year.

He was held without a sack in the SEC title game loss to LSU and the Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State.

“I watch [those games] all the time,” Jones told the Savannah Morning News. “I’ve beaten myself to death because I can see myself making those plays.”

While ILB Alec Ogletree (7.5 tackles for loss last season) and OLB Chase Vasser are facing early season suspensions, the Bulldogs are plenty deep enough to excel in Todd Grantham’s 3-4.

Returning inside starter Michael Gillard is a 6-2, 230-pound senior who made 65 tackles, seven for losses, last year. Senior ILB Christian Robinson (6.5 tackles for loss last year) has made 15 starts. And senior Cornelius Washington can play outside linebacker or defensive end.

Sophomore ILB Amarlo Herrera started eight games last year, and sophomore Ramik Wilson was the most improved defensive player in spring practice. Freshman Jordan Jenkins also has impressed in camp.


Florida: Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins combined for 169 tackles last season. They and senior Lerentee McRay, who was bothered by a shoulder injury last season, all made the Butkus Award watch list.

Alabama: Senior Nico Johnson is a terrific run-stopper and junior C.J. Mosely excels in coverage. Sophomore Adrian Hubbard (6-6, 248) is an emerging threat off the edge.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks return five senior LBs, including Shaq Wilson and Devonte Holloman (4 career INTs).

Texas A&M: Can’t leave out a unit led by senior Sean Porter. He had 17 tackles for loss last season, including 9.5 sacks. Senior Jonathan Stewart led the Aggies with 98 tackles last year.

For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from SEC bloggers Daniel Lewis and Larry Hartstein, follow @CBSSportsSEC.