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college football

College Football: 7 Breakout Defenders To Watch In 2022

  • Ryan Fowler
  • May 27, 2022
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With OTAs underway across the NFL and spring football in the rearview mirror for teams throughout college football, it’s time to look ahead. Here are a few defenders to keep a keen eye on as we move toward college football kickoff in the coming months. 

*Not all players listed are draft-eligible in 2023*

Dallas Turner, LB, Alabama

The potential next great linebacker under Nick Saban, while Will Anderson Jr. will receive a ton of attention this fall—and rightly so—as the potential top prospect in the 2023 class, the true sophomore in Turner has all the tools to become a force at the second level. He totaled 30 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 10 tackles for loss last fall. If the Tide have championship ideals, as they always do, Turner’s progression will remain key within the lungs of Saban’s defense. 

Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army

The first AP All-American out of Army in 31 years, Carter is a legit threat to challenge Anderson for the nationwide lead in sacks this fall. A massive man at 6-foot-7, Carter has every trait scouts look for in a 5-tech pocket pusher and could very well play his way into Round 1 with a dominant campaign for the Black Knights. 

One of the more unique stories in all of college football, while we often get caught up with the bluebloods of the SEC or prestige of the Big Ten and ACC, Carter’s name has been stapled to draft boards for some time and is primed to be the highest player ever drafted out of the service academy.

Jestin Jacobs, LB, Iowa

An athletic marvel at 6-foot-4, Jacobs fits the mold of a modern-day NFL linebacker and checks a ton of boxes for scouts. He can buzz out on running backs, eliminate tight ends in the passing game, blitz with success, and roam sideline to sideline with ease. He’ll only improve as he stashes more and more snaps under his belt. 

Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida

Get to know Dexter’s name. He already has first-round hype, and if spring practice was any indication, he’s a massive force to be reckoned with this fall. At 6-foot-6, he’s powerful yet agile, and can both push the pocket and clog gaps in the run. He could be flat-out dominant in his junior season. 

Bumper Pool, LB, Arkansas

Not only does Pool have one of the best names in all of college football, but his pop stands out on film and he should only improve in his final season in Fayetteville. After totaling 94, 101, and 125 tackles over the last three seasons, respectively, Pool is an extremely under-the-radar talent who could progress into one of the SEC’s best linebackers and a ball carrier’s worst nightmare near the line of scrimmage.

Ameer Speed, CB, Michigan State

A transfer from Georgia, Speed could progress into one of the Big Ten’s top perimeter stalwarts. Mel Tucker continues to fortify his roster in East Lansing, and Speed should waste no time in making his presence felt.

Justin Ford, CB, Montana (FCS)

After recording nine interceptions last season, it didn’t take long for Ford to find himself with a bold dot on NFL scouts’ “prospects to watch” lists. A transfer from Louisville, Ford is a long 6-foot-2 corner with elite instincts. He had three defensive touchdowns last year and is a talent who constantly finds himself near the football. He has a ton of Jimmy Moreland vibes—but bigger and more physical—to his game due to his knack for making plays on the football and could very well be drafted.

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Ryan Fowler