2024 Sun Belt EDGE Rankings: Ben Bell, Nate Johnson Top the Conference

    As most of the sack and TFL leaders have transferred or gone pro, the rest are left to fight over the top spot of the 2024 Sun Belt EDGE Rankings.

    Troy (47) and James Madison (45) finished the regular season as the Sun Belt’s leaders in sacks, with JMU also leading the nation in TFLs (114). Despite this, neither team has a player in the top 10 of our 2024 Sun Belt EDGE Rankings.

    Troy is losing 29.5 sacks with Javon Solomon (16), Richard Jibuner (10), and TJ Jackson (3.5), while JMU is without three players that accounted for 33 — Jalen Green (15.5), Jamree Kromah (11), and Mikail Kamara (6.5).

    With the top dogs moving on, where do the rest stack up in the 2024 Sun Belt EDGE Rankings?

    2024 Sun Belt EDGE Rankings

    10) Davion Rhodes, Georgia Southern Eagles

    Davion Rhodes only appeared in five games with just one tackle in his first two seasons in Statesboro before he started all 13 games for the Eagles last season, recording 39 tackles, four for a loss, two passes batted down, and a sack.

    Now a redshirt junior, Rhodes will anchor the edge once again for Georgia Southern in 2024.

    9) Michael Fletcher, Appalachian State Mountaineers

    After transferring from Michigan State following four seasons with the Spartans, Michael Fletcher broke into the Mountaineers’ rotation last season and used his imposing size to wreak havoc.

    Listed at 6’6″, 275 pounds, Fletcher registered 21 tackles, 4.5 sacks, a batted-down pass, and recovered a fumble. The big senior returns to a unit that finished fourth in the Sun Belt last year with 35 sacks.

    8) Mike Green, Marshall Thundering Herd

    With Owen Porter’s time with the Herd running out, Marshall has some big shoes to fill, and Mike Green is primed to do it. After one season with Virginia, Green joined the program last year, playing in 13 games with 43 tackles, nine for a loss, and 4.5 sacks.

    Porter accounted for 17.5 sacks and 42 tackles for a loss in his time at Marshall, but Green offers some decent recovery as the team moves on.

    7) Jordan Lawson, Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

    Jordan Lawson waited in the backdrop for three seasons with the Ragin’ Cajuns, not playing his first two seasons before an injury shortened his 2022 season. He burst onto the scene last year in an increased role, racking up 65 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, and seven sacks.

    Thanks to the 2020 COVID season and a redshirt in 2021, he still has two years left to play, and he heads into 2024 with no doubts about his playing time.

    6) Javon Denis, Georgia State Panthers

    A four-year letterman and three-year starter for the Panthers, Javon Denis has played in 47 games with 121 tackles, 25 for a loss, and 11.5 sacks. He was a 2022 All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention and a CFN 2023 All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention.

    MORE: 2024 Sun Belt TE Rankings

    Now a fifth-year senior, the 270-pound end heads into his final season as the elder statesman of the unit.

    5) Keyron Crawford, Arkansas State Red Wolves

    Overlooked for conference postseason accolades, Keyron Crawford quietly put together a strong 2023 season. He led the Red Wolves in sacks with 6.5 to go along with 45 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, two forced fumbles, and two recoveries.

    Arkansas State’s pass rush left much to be desired, finishing 11th in the conference with 23 team sacks, but Crawford’s return in 2024 is a step in the right direction.

    4) Cameron Whitfield, Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

    Similar to teammate Lawson, Cameron Whitfield had to wait for his turn down in Lafayette, and he seized on the moment when he got the chance, racking up 43 tackles, nine for a loss, and eight sacks last season.

    Whitfield and Lawson make a dynamic pair anchoring the line, with Whitfield more of a standup rusher while Lawson gets his hand in the dirt.

    3) Isaac Walker, Georgia Southern Eagles

    A two-year starter for the Eagles, Walker was named to the 2023 All-Sun Belt Third Team after leading the conference in forced fumbles (five) and recoveries (four) while leading all Sun Belt DL in defended passes (seven). He recorded six of his 8.5 career sacks last season.

    The Eagles are getting their primary disruptor along the line of scrimmage back with Walker, and they’ll need it after finishing 12th in the conference in sacks.

    2) Nate Johnson, Appalachian State Mountaineers

    A 2023 All-Sun Belt Second Team selection as a true freshman, Nate Johnson fits the mold of a prototypical pass rusher at a lean, flexible 6’5″ and 240 pounds. With 43 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, and 7.5 sacks, he quickly established himself amongst the best of the conference.

    With two top-10 selections in our Sun Belt EDGE Rankings, the Mountaineers are returning two of its best anchors for its already solid pass rush.

    1) Ben Bell, Texas State Bobcats

    Ben Bell only made seven starts, but he was heavily used in a deep Texas State front seven that finished third in the nation in tackles for a loss (108). He led the Bobcats in that category (16) and sacks (10), resetting FBS program records.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Sun Belt CB Rankings

    A 2023 All-Sun Belt Second Team selection despite splitting time, most of the upperclassmen he played behind graduated, paving the way for Bell to cement his status as the top edge in the Sun Belt his senior year.

    2024 Sun Belt EDGE Rankings | 11-20

    11) Abi Nwabuoku-Okonji, JMU
    12) Devin Wright, Texas State
    13) Khalil Alexander, Texas State
    14) Zach Edwards, Troy
    15) Loyd Summerall, JMU
    16) Kevin Abrams-Verwayne, Appalachian State
    17) Raymond Cutts, Troy
    18) Jordan Norman, South Alabama
    19) Montez Kelly, Appalachian State
    20) Will Whiston, Coastal Carolina

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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