SEC Football:  The East’s Most Important Defensive Players

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Oct 25, 2014; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Derek Barnett (9) attempts the sack on Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims (6) during the second half game at Neyland Stadium. Alabama won 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The run Tennessee had to end 2014 has many fans excited about their potential in 2015.  While Joshua Dobbs gets most of the attention, Derek Barnett also played out of this world as a freshman in 2014.

Barnett posted the school record for most sacks in a game (three…and he did it twice), the most TFLs and most sacks in a season by a true freshman and also led the SEC with 18 TFLs in conference games.  He did all this after becoming the first ever true freshman to start a season opener on the defensive line in Tennessee history.

If Tennesse is going to truly contend for the SEC East title in 2015, Barnett will have to continue his ridiculous level of play.  And then some.  Tennessee’s defense if far from dominant.  It must contain at least one dominant player to be an impact unit.  That responsibility falls on Barnett.

Next: Georgia