Monday, we looked at offensive footballers. Today, let's look at my favorite defensive footballers.
1. Jemea Thomas - OK, who doesn't love this kid? Seriously! If everyone gave their all like Jemea did every single play, there are not many offenses that would be successful. My favorite memory of Jemea was in the ACC Championship Game last year. Jemea was wearing number 40 in honor of Julian Burnett (who is an honorable mention on this list). FSU was trying to put us away, so EJ Manuel threw a deep ball to Kelvin Benjamin while Jemea (who is about a foot shorter than Benjamin) is covering him. Jemea gets in front of him to basically cut him off from the catch and intercepts the ball. Unfortunately, we still lost that game, but I remember watching that game and jumping up and starting to shout, and then having my parents yell at me to quiet down. It was great.
2. Jeremiah Attaochu - Another great kid that everybody loves. My favorite part about Jerry was his willingness. He was recruited to play at GT in Al Groh's 3-4 defense. Things changed his senior year when Al Groh was fired halfway through his junior year. Jerry could have quit or transferred to some lower-division school that runs a 3-4, but no, Jerry stayed. He learned to play with a hand in the dirt, and he flat-out dominated, recording 12.5 sacks making him Georgia Tech's all-time sack leader.
3. Michael Johnson - Michael Johnson did not become a full-time starter until his senior year in 2008, but he was pretty great that year. He finished the season with 9.0 sacks and 17.5 TFL and an interception. That interception is definitely my favorite memory of him. I'm really glad that he didn't stay at TE, like he came in as.
4. Morgan Burnett - This guy was a beast. In his last season on the Flats, he had seven interceptions. Let that sink in, SEVEN INTERCEPTIONS!!! And my favorite one came against that school to the east, when Matt Stafford threw a touchdown pass to Morgan Burnett.
5. Vance Walker - In case you haven't noticed, I absolutely love good defensive linemen. That is the key to having a good defense, because the more guys that can get to the QB on their own, the more you can drop everybody else into coverage. Vance is no different. Unfortunately, his senior year was not quite as good as his junior year, causing his draft stock to fall all the way into the seventh round where the Atlanta Falcons drafted him (woohoo!).
There's my top 5. What are yours?