Our series on the best of the SEC continues. Year after year, the SEC creates some of the most efficient and dynamic linebackers in the sport of college football. This season, many linebackers will be either the leading faces of their teams or they will be major contributors to the success of their defenses. Most of the teams in the SEC either have one potential All-American at linebacker or they have the potential to be high-valued draft picks in the NFL Draft. Five linebackers have the makings of an All-American and have NFL caliber talent. Here are the top five linebackers of the SEC this 2021 College Football season.
The Best SEC Linebackers for the 2021 CFB Season
Will Anderson Jr. – outside linebacker (So.) – Alabama
Last season, Anderson came in as a true freshman and dominated since the first game he played for Alabama. Anderson accounted for 52 total tackles, 34 solo tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and a forced fumble as an edge rusher linebacker. Anderson also accounted for a pressure rate of 17.4%, which was eighth in the FBS last season. He was an instant impact player for the Tide’s defense on day one for the 2020 season. There is no doubt that with a full offseason training and becoming a bigger piece of the defense, Anderson will become a much bigger threat as a pass rusher. Anderson is a preseason first-team All-SEC selection and a first-team All-American by Athlon Sports and Sporting News.
Christian Harris – linebacker (Jr.) – Alabama
Much like Anderson, Christian Harris was a day one starter as a true freshman. In his first two years at Alabama in 2019 and 2020, Harris has accumulated 140 total tackles, 79 solo tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, three pass breakups, and one interception. This past season, Harris accounted for 79 total tackles, 52 solo tackles, seven tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two pass breakups, and one interception. Harris is a linebacker that excels in playing at the weakside linebacker. He is efficient at stopping the short passing game through man or zone coverage. He is a quick read linebacker that can make the tackle or sack in the backfield. Harris continues the tradition of highly efficient middle linebackers that Alabama head coach Nick Saban loves for his defense. This preseason, Harris became first-team All-SEC selection for the first time in his collegiate career.
Henry To’o To’o – Inside Linebacker (Jr.) – Alabama
The NCAA Transfer rule has been huge for some schools, especially for the Crimson Tide. The Tide secured a huge pickup this offseason from former Tennessee Volunteers middle linebacker Henry To’o To’o. For the past two seasons at Tennessee, To’o To’o accumulated 140 total tackles, 74 solo tackles. He also accounted for 12.5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, four pass breakups, one interception, and one fumble recovery. To’o To’o becomes the Tide’s number one inside linebacker, next to Harris. He will be playing the strong side linebacker in the middle of the defense. Under the guidance and development of coach Saban and defensive coordinator Pete Golding, To’o To’o is expected to have a huge increase in productivity. He will help improve the Tide’s defense that ranked 17th in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game (113.1).
Grant Morgan – linebacker (rSr.) – Arkansas
The Arkansas Razorbacks are a team that has had no short of talent but short of talented coaches leading them. This season, the Razorbacks will have two stellar senior linebackers leading their defense. Morgan has been with the Razorbacks since 2016 and has played all but one game since 2017. Morgan has accumulated 211 total tackles, 79 solo tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, eight pass breakups, one interception. Last season, Morgan accounted for 110 total tackles (second-most in the SEC), 40 solo tackles, 70 assisted tackles (most in the SEC), 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and five pass breakups. Morgan and fellow linebacker Bumper Pool have been named to the Butkus Award Watch List for the best linebacker in the FBS.
Zakoby McClain – linebacker (Sr.) – Auburn
After several seasons of development, McClain has turned into one of the most reliable linebackers in the SEC. In the three seasons at Auburn, McClain has accumulated 172 total tackles, 92 solo tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two pass breakups, one interception, and four forced fumbles. This past season, McClain accounted for 113 total tackles (most in the SEC), 57 solo tackles (most in the SEC), 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, and one forced fumble. McClain is a player that big plays at the right time and big hits. McClain is a preseason first-team All-SEC selection by Athlon Sports and second-team All-SEC by the conference.