2024 SEC LB Rankings: Harold Perkins Jr., Debo Williams Highlight the Second Level

    Harold Perkins Jr. is the big name on the 2024 SEC LB Rankings, but he is hardly the only second-level defender deserving of recognition.

    Texas A&M’s Edgerrin Cooper was the LB1 last season, but he has a clear successor in LSU’s Harold Perkins. Beyond him, multiple second-level defenders will create headaches for the conference’s offenses. Who checks in behind the Tigers’ defensive star in the 2024 SEC LB Rankings?

    SEC 2024 LB Rankings

    10) Danny Stutsman, Oklahoma Sooners

    Danny Stutsman is a bit of a throwback linebacker at 6’4″ and 241 pounds. He makes his money scraping and rallying in run defense, but he is also a capable blitzer and zone coverage defender.

    9) Smael Mondon Jr., Georgia Bulldogs

    Smael Mondon Jr.’s play recognition and instant acceleration allow him to blow up plays with regularity. A sure tackler with the twitchiness to rectify awkward angles, he returns for his third season as a starter — presumably his last before leaving for the NFL.

    8) Eugene Asante, Auburn Tigers

    After serving as a backup for three years at North Carolina and playing in just four games in his first season at Auburn, Eugene Asante proved to be the defense’s leader in 2023. He racked up 86 tackles and five sacks, even taking a fumble to the house. Now equipped with starting experience, Asante should finish his college career with his best outing yet.

    7) Taurean York, Texas A&M Aggies

    As a true freshman, Taurean York took advantage of playing alongside Edgerrin Cooper, racking up 74 tackles (8.5 for loss) and three sacks.

    MORE: 2024 SEC Power Rankings

    He was voted a team captain this spring, and all eyes will be on him with Cooper entering the NFL Draft. But York has the physical tools and intangibles to bet on.

    6) CJ Taylor, Vanderbilt Commodores

    Vanderbilt is usually at the bottom of the conference, but they have an impressive LB duo in CJ Taylor and Langston Patterson. At 6’1″ and 201 pounds, Taylor looks like a safety and moves like one too. In just nine games last season, he showcased his playmaking ability, intercepting two passes and forcing two fumbles.

    5) Jihaad Campbell, Alabama Crimson Tide

    Jihaad Campbell spent his first season in Alabama on special teams but earned the starting LB role as a true sophomore. His long 6’3″ and 230-pound frame easily wrapped up opponents and squeezed throwing windows in the flats and underneath. Nick Saban is gone, but new DC Kane Wommack runs a similar scheme and will put Campbell in a position to succeed.

    4) Greg Penn III, LSU Tigers

    Perkins isn’t the only LSU LB terrorizing the conference. Greg Penn III has the size (6’2″, 235 pounds) to take on blocks, press the pocket as a blitzer, and de-cleat ball carriers. He won’t ever be an elite coverage defender moving backward due to his average athleticism, but Penn has the awareness and aggression to make up for it.

    3) D’Eryk Jackson, Kentucky Wildcats

    Kentucky’s back-to-back leading tackler, D’Eryk Jackson added 8.5 TFLs, two sacks, two INTs (one returned for a TD), four PBUs, and a forced fumble last season. At a stoutly built 6’1″ and 245 pounds, the Wildcats’ LB pops on contact, keeping his head on a swivel. Plus, with patience from the second level in both run defense and coverage, Jackson is rarely out of position.

    2) Debo Williams, South Carolina Gamecocks

    Debo Williams’ 113 tackles were third in the SEC last season, and when you turn on the film, it’s easy to see how he got there. He sifts through the mess on run downs, bouncing laterally from gap to gap with a quick trigger. Coverage isn’t his strong suit, but Williams keeps plays in front of him and has the sideline-to-sideline range to limit YAC.

    1) Harold Perkins Jr., LSU Tigers

    Pass-rush threat? Check. Elite athlete? Check. Able to cover? Check. There truly isn’t much Harold Perkins Jr. can’t do.

    KEEP READING: 2024 SEC DT Rankings

    At 6’1″ and 220 pounds, he’ll never be a dominant box defender, and longer/beefier offensive linemen can drive him out of run plays. Nevertheless, what he brings in coverage and as a pass rusher isn’t replicated by anyone in the conference.

    2024 SEC LB Rankings | 11-20

    11) Deontae Lawson, Alabama
    12) Anthony Hill Jr.,
    Texas
    13) Demetrius Knight and Bangally Kamara, South Carolina
    14) Chris Paul Jr. and Khari Coleman, Ole Miss
    15) Corey Flagg Jr., Missouri
    16) Shemar James, Florida
    17) Jamon Dumas-Johnson, Kentucky
    18) CJ Allen, Georgia
    19) Xavian Sorey, Arkansas
    20) David Gbenda and Kendrick Blackshire, Texas

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