With just under 26 days until College Football season kicks off, here’s the latest edition of the Top 10 rankings by position, this time its the outside linebackers. Be sure to check out the other rankings as well.
Top 10 Outside Linebackers in the NCAA for 2016
10 Matt Milano, Boston College, Sr.
Matt Milano was a third team All-ACC recipient last season and returns to an experienced Golden Eagles defense hoping to turn the proverbial “corner” this season. Milano recorded 58 tackles (46 solo, 12 assisted), 17.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, three passes defended, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in 2015 for the Golden Eagles. Milano was sixth in the ACC in tackles for loss, tenth in the ACC in sacks, while leading the team in both categories. Milano’s best performance last season came against the Duke Blue Devils where he racked up 9 tackles (8 solo, 1 assisted), three tackles for a loss, and a sack in a tough 9-7 loss. With coaching changes on the offensive side of the ball, look for Milano and company to anchor another tough defensive effort in 2016 as a top defense in the ACC.
9 Vince Biegel, Wisconsin, Sr.
Vince Biegel was a third team All-Big Ten recipient for his performance on defense last season. Biegel returns to a Badgers defense that only gave up 13.7 points a game last season. Biegel recorded 66 tackles (31 solo, 25 assisted), 14 tackles for loss, and eight sacks for the Badgers in 2015. Biegel’s best performance in 2015 came against Minnesota in a 31-21 win where he recorded six tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack. Biegel hopes to be a bigger force for the Badgers this season after missing out on the Big Ten Conference title last season.
8 Steven Taylor, Houston, Sr.
Steven Taylor was an All-American Athletic Conference second team selection for the Houston Cougars defense in 2015. Taylor recorded 92 tackles (61 solo, 31 assisted), 18.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, three passes defended, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions for the Cougars last season. Taylor led the American Athletic Conference in sacks and was second behind teammate Elandon Roberts in tackles for loss. Taylor’s best performance last season came against Tulsa where he registered 16 tackles (7 solo, 9 assisted), four tackles for loss and three sacks in a 38-24 victory. Taylor returns to a Houston team looking to capitalize after beating Florida State 38-24 last year in their bowl game.
7 Azeem Victor, Washington, Jr.
Azeem Victor was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection last season for his defensive efforts last season. Victor recorded 95 tackles (59 solo, 36 assisted), nine tackles for loss, six passes defended, two forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks, a fumble recovery, an interception, and an interception return for a touchdown last season for the Huskies. Victor was eighth in the Pac-12 in tackles in 2015, led the Huskies in tackles last season, and was third on the team in tackles for loss. His best performance last season came against USC where Victor racked up 10 tackles (4 solo, 6 assisted), two tackles for a half loss, and a half a sack in their 17-12 upset of the Trojans. Victor returns hoping to produce at a similar rate on defense for the Washington Huskies in 2016.
6 Anthony Walker Jr., Northwestern, Jr.
Anthony Walker Jr. was a first team All-Big Ten selection for his defensive efforts last season. Walker Jr. recorded 120 tackles (63 solo, 57 assisted), 19 tackles for loss, four sacks, four passes defended, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and an interception for the Wildcats in 2015. Walker Jr. was third in the Big Ten in tackles, third in tackles for loss, and fifth in fumbles forced. His best performance in 2015 came against Duke where he recorded a career high 19 tackles (7 solo, 12 assisted) and two forced fumbles in a 19-10 victory. Walker Jr. should play a key role on the Northwestern defense after a breakout sophomore season in 2015.
5 Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee, Sr.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin was all over the field for the Tennessee Volunteers in 2015. Reeves-Maybin recorded 105 tackles (66 solo, 39 assisted), 14 tackles for loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries last season. Reeves-Maybin led the Volunteers in total tackles, solo tackles, and tackles for loss, and was second in sacks. His solo tackles and total tackles were fifth best in the SEC last season as well. His best performance last season came unfortunately in a 31-24 loss to Oklahoma, where Reeves-Maybin recorded a career high 21 tackles (13 solo, 8 assisted), three tackles for loss, a sack, a pass defended and a forced fumble.
4 Ryan Anderson, Alabama, Sr.
Ryan Anderson returns to a loaded Crimson Tide defense looking to solidify themselves as one of the best of all time in 2016. Anderson recorded 37 tackles (21 solo, 16 assisted), 11.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles last season for the Crimson Tide. Anderson was second on the team in tackles for loss, third in sacks in 2015 as well. His best performance came against Michigan State in the College Football Playoff semifinal where Anderson recorded four solo tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack in a 38-0 victory. Anderson returns in what could be the best linebacking core in the nation next to Tim Williams.
3 Devonte Fields, Louisville, Sr.
Devonte Fields has had quite the career since transferring from TCU to Louisville. The former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year at defensive linemen has since converted to outside linebacker since transferring to Louisville and his transition has been quite productive. Fields earned All-ACC honorable mention last season after recording 63 tackles (45 solo, 18 assisted), 22 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, three passes defended, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Fields was third in the NCAA and ACC in tackles for loss and fourth in the ACC in sacks. His best performance in 2015 came in the Cardinals bowl victory 27-21 over Texas A&M where Fields recorded 8 tackles (7 solo, 1 assisted), three tackles for loss, three sacks, and two passes defended. As Louisville looks to upend in Clemson in the Atlantic Division, look for Fields to play a pivotal role on defense.
2 Tim Williams, Alabama, Sr.
Tim Williams returns to the Alabama Crimson Tide looking to add more to his impressive numbers in limited snaps. Williams recorded 18 tackles (12 solo, 6 assisted), 11.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, and a pass defended for the Crimson Tide in 2015. Williams was second on the team last season in sacks behind Jonathan Allen, and also tied for second on the team in tackles for loss with Ryan Anderson. Williams returns looking to add more to not only his sack total, but also to his total tackle effort as he’ll definitely see more snaps in 2016.
1 Jarrad Davis, Florida, Sr.
Jarrad Davis had a strong sophomore season for the Florida Gators in 2015. Davis recorded 94 tackles (50 solo, 44 assisted), 11 tackles for loss, four passes defended, 3.5 sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble last season. Davis was second on the team in tackles and tied for third on the team in tackles for loss for Florida last season. His best performance in 2015 came against East Carolina where he racked up 12 tackles (5 solo, 7 assisted), 2.5 tackles for loss, and a pass defended in a 31-24 victory. Davis returns hoping to lead the Gators to greater success in 2016 as the face of Florida’s defense.