What do you get if you put Superman and Captain America on the same defensive line? These guys! In this list I profile the superheroes who combine forces to do battle in the trenches. I’m Looking for defensive line tandems who make eye-popping plays while putting up eye-popping numbers.
11. Team Travis
DE Travis Johnson and DT Travis Raciti – San Jose State
While the WAC is generally known as an offensive conference, these guys definitely give defensive gurus something to cheer about. If you look at Spartan game tapes you’ll see the relentless pursuit and run stuffing ability of #43 and #90. These guys can get after it, and lead the charge for a defense that returns their top three tacklers.
10. The Corvallis Kids
DE Scott Crichton and DE Dylan Wynn – Oregon State
As freshman, Crichton (redshirt) and Wynn (true) put up fantastic numbers and spent plenty of time in opponents backfields. They will only improve with experience, and if you’re a Beav’s fan that has to make you excited. Expect them to once again make noise as the PAC 12′s best defensive end combo.
9. Blackshirt Brutes
DE Cameron Meredith and DT Baker Steinkuhler – Nebraska
These guys were a bit overshadowed last year because of a defense that boasted Crick, David, and Dennard. This year it’s their show and these two are up to the challenge. Steinkuhler and Meredith put you in the mind of the Huskers d-linemen from 15-20 years ago. They are brutish with decent quickness and should keep Nebraska tough up front this season.
8. International Men of Mystery
DE Tourek Williams and DT Isame Faciane – Florida International
It can be hard to get noticed in the Sunbelt conference, but what Mario Cristobal has done at Florida International is nothing short of miraculous. And he has done it by building a strong defense. Williams, who was named preseason defensive player of the year for the Sunbelt Conference, is fast off the end and is a sure tackler. All Faciane does is make plays. It’s impressive to see an interior lineman have so many highlight reel appearances.
7. Kickin’ Chickens
DE Devin Taylor and DE Jadeveon Clowney – South Carolina
As a true freshman last year, Jadeveon Clowney made strides towards living up to the hype of being the nation’s number one high school recruit. He was able to develop largely due to Devin Taylor getting a lot of attention from opposing offensive lineman. Taylor has freakish size (6’8) and uses his hands well to get off blocks. Clowney is still developing, but is already one of the best in the SEC. Together they are game changers on the Gamecock defense and if South Carolina is to win the east division, these two will be a huge factor.
DE Bjoern Werner and DE Brandon Jenkins – Florida State
If anyone was concerned about the Florida State defense after Mickey Andrews left, Jenkins and Werner are here to ease your mind. Jenkins always gets a step on his man, and a great first move equates to a great finishing move on most plays. Werner’s numbers rival Jenkins, and the two spend a lot of time together in offensive backfields. It’s not just their pass rushing that makes them stand out, this defensive line and these two in particular just don’t give up rushing yards. I Wouldn’t be surprised to see FSU vs. VaTech in the conference championship in a battle of the ACC’s best defenses.
5. Oskee wow WOW!
DE Michael Buchanan and DT Akeem Spence – Illinois
A disappointing season last year led to Ron Zook’s firing in Champaign. One bright spot was the Illini defensive line. Buchanan and Spence put up huge numbers and should be sack masters again this year. Incoming coach Tim Beckman has to be feeling good about his defense with these two anchors on the line.
4. Layne Pain Train
DE James Gayle and DE JR Collins – Virginia Tech
How can you not be impressed with James Gayle? The guy is everywhere, at times he seems unblockable. His cohort Collins is fast to the ball and extremely athletic. Bud Foster knows how to get the most out of his players and these two have talent to spare. The Hokies may have the best DL in the ACC.
3. By-you blazers
DE Sam Montgomery and DE Barkevious Mingo – LSU
Montgomery and Mingo are probably the top NFL prospects on this list. They have great size, greater speed, and are very sound tacklers. Montgomery absorbs and fights his way through the double team on almost every play, freeing up Mingo to bring the speed rush off the edge. With the “Honey Badger” gone these guys will need to step up.
2. Beasts of Block O
DE John Simon and DT Johnathan Hankins – Ohio St.
Simon has the best motor in college football and it’s not up for debate. He is constantly blowing up plays, and terrorizing quarterbacks. Hankins has great speed for his size. He also has the ability to beat the double team and somehow seems to be a part of every single tackle made. These two swarm to the ball and should define the Silver Bullet defense this year.
1. The Lonestar Legion of Doom
DE Alex Okafor and DE Jackson Jeffcoat – Texas
Number one was probably the easiest choice on the list. Jeffcoat and Okafor are as good as it gets on the defensive line. Having these guys as bookends is every coaches dream come true. Both are strong, fast, and playing for the hottest defensive coordinator in college football. This pair will keep opposing Big 12 quarterbacks reaching for the Tums on game week.