Secondary To None

By: Robert Craft news services

The way Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Joe Burrow dissected defenses last season may lead some to think the secondary play in the SEC is on a downturn. I’m here to tell you otherwise.

The secondary in the SEC for 2020 is loaded with future NFL talent. While I’m not sure this class can match the number of players drafted in rounds one and two of the 2020 NFL draft, I do think the talent as a collective is overall stronger than the 2019 class.

Here is my top five defensive back on SEC rosters this season:

  1. Marco Wilson, Junior CB, Redshirt Sophomore Florida: Wilson started in all 13 games for the Gators last season.

After suffering an ACL tear early in the 2018, Wilson recorded 36 total defensive stops (23 solo), 3 interceptions, and 2 pass break-ups.

Wilson is one of only four true freshmen to start at cornerback on opening day for Florida. He was named to the All-SEC Freshman team by the coaches in 2017.

The 6-foot-0, 190 pounder can play both boundary and slot. Wilson has good size and speed and is sticky in man coverage. This season, look for Wilson to lock up top wide receivers on the opposing end.

  1. Richard Lecounte, Safety, Senior Georgia: Lecounte is the top safety in the SEC period.

He has started 27 of 28 games over the past two seasons. The 5-foot-11, 190 pounder was third on the team with tackles with 61 (35 solo), led the SEC in fumbles recovered with three and second in interceptions with four.

Lecounte is the Alpha-Dog of the Georgia secondary. Playing alongside Tyson Campbell, Eric Stokes and DJ Daniels makes Georgia the top secondary in the SEC.

Lecounte is a Preseason All-SEC first team defense selection.

  1. Israel Mukuamu, CB, Junior South Carolina: Mukuamu had arguably the best game by any defensive back in the SEC during the 2019 season, when he helped propel the Gamecocks to an upset win over Georgia.

Mukuamu picked off Georgia QB Jake Fromm three times en route to a 20-17 win. He returned the first interception 53 yards for a touchdown. The final interception came at the most important of times, overtime.

The 6-foot-4, 205 pounder earned second team All-SEC in 2019. Mukuama has been First Team All-SEC Academic Honor Roll for 2018 & 2019.

Mukuamu is a big corner who fights and competes and wins against big named receivers Saturday after Saturday.

  1. Patrick Surtain, CB, Junior Alabama: With Alabama consistently featuring a loaded secondary, it may be hard for a freshman to see the field.

However, Surtain was the exception. He played well in 2018 recording 28 tackles with an interception, seven passes deflected and one forced fumble.

As a sophomore, Surtain had 42 tackles with 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 8 passes broken up.

Surtain is a physical cornerback, the 6-foot-2, 203-pound corner routinely bullies receivers. With Josh Jobe, Daniel Wright and Jordan Battle playing with Surtain, Alabama will compete with Georgia on the top secondary in the SEC.

  1. Derek Stingley Jr, CB, Sophomore LSU: Stingley, a true freshman in 2019, was the top ranked cornerback in the country coming out of high school.

Now he is the top ranked cornerback in the SEC. During LSU’s national championship run, Stingley started every game.

The 6-foot-1, 195 pound corner earned a list of awards in 2019: Consensus All-American, First Team All-American (AFCA, AP, Athletic, CBS, ESPN, SI, Sporting News, USA Today), SEC Newcomer of the year (unanimous), first Team All-SEC, SEC All-Freshman Team & SEC Freshman of the Week.

He is, arguably, the most impactful freshmen in the SEC since Herschel Walker. He led the SEC in interceptions with 6 and passes deflected with 21.

He is the Grandson of the late Darryl Stingley, who’s NFL career was cut short after suffering a tragic injury in 1978.

In my opinion, Stingley is the best defensive player in the SEC.

Just outside the Top 5: Kary Vincent, LSU; Josh Jobe, Alabama; Eric Stokes, Georgia: Tyson Cambell, Georgia; DJ Daniels, Georgia; Kewin Joseph, Kentucky; Miles James, Texas A&M; Brandin Echols, Kentucky; Alontae Taylor, Tennessee; Elijah Blades, Texas A&M; Marcus Murphy, Mississippi; Jaycee Horn, South Carolina; JaCoby Stevens, LSU; Daniel Wright, Alabama

Breakout Player: Kaiir Elam Florida