2014 Recruits Who Will Become Sack Machines in College
The rapid expansion of effective passing attacks in college football has made life more difficult for defensive coordinators than ever before. The battle to slow down an aerial assault starts up front, where putting pressure on the passer is paramount.
Coaches across the country are in pursuit of players with the prowess to consistently apply heat on the quarterback. There are several prospects with the potential to emerge as monstrous defensive stalwarts at the next level.
We take a look at members of the 2014 recruiting class capable of stacking up stacks in college. Quarterbacks, take note, these players are coming your way in the near future.
5-Star DE Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga.)
Lorenzo Carter is a speed demon off the edge of the defense line. He projects as a prototypical weak-side defensive end, able to dismantle offensive game plans on a regular basis.
The 6'5", 235-pound Norcross High School standout is too quick for most offensive tackles to contain. His presence regularly demands double-team help from tight ends and fullbacks.
Expect him to emerge as a starter during his first season and spend at least three seasons as a college quarterback terrorizer. Carter, who remains uncommitted, is considering offers from Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Florida State and LSU, among others.
4-Star DE Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Va.)
Ohio State commit Jalyn Holmes heads to Columbus with high expectations in place. The 6'5", 225-pound Lake Taylor High School prospect picked up 75 tackles, 40 tackles for loss and 12 sacks as a junior, per Scout.com.
Holmes has an excellent approach off the snap and uses his long arms to create separation and room for peering into the backfield. He is the nation's No. 4 weak-side defensive end and No. 68 overall player in 247Sports' composite rankings.
Aside from Ohio State, Holmes holds offers from Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, Penn State and several other BCS programs.
4-Star LB Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C.)
Christian Miller committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide in July, giving Nick Saban yet another elite talent to work into his vaunted defensive attack. The 6'4", 225-pound Spring Valley star is an aggressive agitator off the outside edge and can hold his own when blitzing between the tackles.
He is an every-down outside linebacker recruit, listed as the No. 2 player at his position in 247Sports' composite rankings. Miller is an ideal pass-rusher from the second level in a 3-4 scheme, where playmaking linebackers make or break the scheme.
He made 121 tackles, including 21 tackles for loss, and racked up 14 sacks as a junior, according to AL.com. Through the first four games of his senior season, Miller has more than 50 total tackles to go with six sacks, per 247Sports.
4-Star DE Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif.)
Nifae Lealao is still a raw prospect as a pass-rusher, but as he polishes his game at the collegiate level, he should be a major force. The 6'5", 280-pound Stanford commit stars at Capital Christian, where he's earned a reputation as one of the top defenders in California.
He is listed as the county's sixth-best strong-side defensive end prospect and No. 9 overall player in the talent-packed state, per 247Sports' composite rankings. Lealao chose the Cardinal in September from a final list that also included California, UCLA, Utah and Ole Miss.
The Sacramento star maintains tremendous pad level and executes at the point of attack. His sack totals aren't extremely impressive at the high school level (12 total quarterback takedowns in the past two seasons), but he is gradually improving as a rusher and will continue that ascension in Palo Alto.
5-Star DE Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va.)
Many consider defensive end Da'Shawn Hand the best high school senior in all the land, so it's no surprise he ends up on this list. He is a disruptive defender whose game is reminiscent of former Texas A&M star Von Miller.
Hand, a 6'4", 255-pound playmaker at Woodbridge High School, burst onto the national scene when he recorded 21 sacks as a sophomore, according to Rivals.com. He added 16 more sacks and 40 tackles for loss as a junior.
The defensive menace is undeterred by double-teams and possesses an arsenal of moves that make linemen look foolish. Hand has become a household name for those who follow college football recruiting, and he'll be counted on to contribute immediately in college.
He remains uncommitted, considering offers from a long list of teams that include Alabama, Florida, USC, LSU and Michigan.