Top 10 SEC linebacker rankings for 2022 includes this Gator

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Florida football kicks off its 2022 season on September 3 against the Utah Utes in the Swamp as the program turns the page from the Dan Mullen era into the Billy Napier age. While there has been tremendous turnover both in the coaching ranks and on the roster in recent years, the fingerprints of the previous administrations still remain visible.

Among those who have held over is linebacker Ventrell Miller, who is expected to be one of the best in the Southeastern Conference this season due to a combination of his physical prowess as well as the experience that comes with being a redshirt senior. Originally signed by the Jim McElwain regime in the 2017 recruiting class, the midfield beast out of Lakeland, Florida, was expected to go in the 2021 NFL draft but a torn biceps two weeks into the season derailed those plans.

The USA TODAY Sports Network is counting down to SEC media days, scheduled for July 18-21 in Atlanta, by revealing its top players at each position grouping. Take a look below at who it ranked as the 10 best linebackers in the SEC heading into the 2022 season, with blurbs on each player.

Will Anderson Jr.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama, junior (160 points, 16 first-place votes)

As the Jack linebacker, Anderson led the nation with 17½ sacks and 34½ tackles for loss in 2021 and might have won the Heisman Trophy if not for it being a traditionally offensive award.

Derick Hall

AP Photo/John Raoux

Auburn, senior (108 points)

Derick Hall is a projected first-round draft pick who finished third in the SEC with nine sacks last year from Auburn’s edge position.

(tie) Henry To’oTo’o

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama, senior (107 points)

Usually one of the smartest players on the field, To’oTo’o earned a spot on the All-SEC second team in 2021 as he led Alabama with 113 tackles.

(tie) Nolan Smith

AP Photo/Brett Davis

Georgia, senior (107 points)

This former No. 1 overall recruit is the top returning tackle for UGA with 56 to go along with nine tackles for loss and 3½ sacks.

Bumper Pool

Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas, senior (89 points)

Getting Pool back was a stated goal of coach Sam Pittman’s, and Arkansas gets its most experienced linebacker and 2021 leader in tackles, back for a final season.

Jeremy Banks

Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel

Tennessee, senior (86 points)

Banks is the SEC’s top returning tackler with 128, and he tied for the team lead with 11½ tackles for loss and 5½ sacks.

Ventrell Miller

AP Photo/John Raoux

Florida, senior (48 points)

Miller led the Gators in tackles during the 2020 season with 88 and was on track to lead the unit in tackling once again before a torn biceps injury in the first month of the season effectively ended his 2021 campaign.

Dallas Turner

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama, sophomore (39 points)

The former five-star recruit finished the year on a hot streak, tallying 8½ sacks in the final seven games – with two in the College Football Playoff championship.

Owen Pappoe

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn, senior (30 points)

Pappoe was injured last year, but the Auburn team captain is a former five-star recruit who excels in coverage and pass rush; he amassed 93 tackles in 2020.

Tyrus Wheat

AP Photo/Jim Cowsert

Mississippi State, senior (24 points)

Wheat had 10½ tackles for loss in 2021 with 7½ sacks.

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