The rankings give fans an idea of what teams they should keep an eye on. But let’s put a player-focus spin on Top 25 szn. In this summer series, we’ll rank the Top 25 returning players at every position.
Next up are the defensive linemen.
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Best Returning DL
25. Jared Verse, UAlbany
24. Brevin Allen, Campbell
23. Chase Benson, Montana State
22. Malik Fisher, Villanova
21. Anthony Knighton, Southern Illinois
20. Spencer Waege, North Dakota State
19. George Tarlas, Weber State
18. Caleb Sanders, South Dakota State
17. Micheal Mason, Wofford
16. Noah Elliss, Idaho
15. Devonnsha Maxwell, Chattanooga
14. Jevon Leon, Sam Houston
13. Jared Schiess, Weber State
12. Malik Hamm, Lafayette
11. DJ Coleman, Jacksonville State
10. Shaundre Mims, Charleston Southern
9. Amandre Williams, Montana State
8. Kobie Turner, Richmond
7. Jermaine McDaniel, North Carolina A&T
6. Jahari Kay, Sam Houston
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The Top 5
5. Joseph Wallace, Sam Houston
A key addition to the SHSU defensive line in 2019 was Wallace, who started seven games for Texas Tech in 2018 and was a three-star recruit. At 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds, Wallace plugged the middle of SHSU’s defense and finished with 21 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, four sacks, and three forced fumbles as he was honored on the All-Southland Conference Second Team.
In SHSU’s national title run in the spring, Wallace was again a force in the middle, totaling 31 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, and 2.5 sacks. He was named to the All-Southland Conference First Team along with earning HERO Sports All-American honors.
4. Mike Greene, James Madison
Greene is a three-year starter for the Dukes, playing on the interior of the line in 2018 and 2019 before moving to defensive end during the spring. The 6-foot-3, 285-pounder plans to move back inside this season. A Third Team All-CAA selection in 2019, Greene added more accolades in the spring, being named to four different All-American First Teams along with CAA Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors.
He has 121 career tackles, 27 tackles for loss, and 13 sacks. Greene enters this fall as the CAA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
3. Isaiah Chambers, McNeese
Chambers was a four-star high school recruit out of Houston. Ranked the No. 2 strong-side defensive end in Texas and No. 7 nationally by 247Sports, he made a couple of stops at FBS schools (TCU and Houston) before transferring to McNeese.
In his debut season during the spring of 2021, Chambers totaled 32 tackles, 14 TFLs, 7.5 sacks, and 11 quarterback hurries in just seven games. The 6-foot-5, 251-pounder was a consensus First Team All-American, was named the Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and finished fourth in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award.
2. Jared Brinkman, Northern Iowa
The 6-foot-2, 290-pounder is incredibly productive on the interior of the defensive line. Brinkman racked up 83 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, five quarterback hurries, and three forced fumbles in 2019. He was named to the All-MVFC Second Team.
In the spring, he ate up double teams and still managed to record 38 tackles in seven games with nine TFLs, 3.5 sacks, three QB hurries, and two forced fumbles. Brinkman earned five different All-American First Team honors and was named the MVFC Defensive Player of the Year.
1. Jordan Lewis, Southern
Lewis was voted the best defensive player in the FCS during the spring as he won the Buck Buchanan Award. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder was unblockable, living in the backfield with 27 tackles, 15 TFLs, and 10.5 sacks.
Oh, and he did that in only five games.
Lewis was named to several All-American First Teams and enters this fall the SWAC’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.