Eight Debate: Defense

The Eight Debate will be a season long series centered around the top eight players on each side of the ball. There will be players that move up, down, on and off of the list throughout the season. Here is a look at the top eight defensive players heading into the start of two-a-days.

Ford brings senior leadership and experience to the defensive line.

No. 1 - Dee Ford

The senior defensive end played in 11 games for the Tigers in 2012, starting eight. He had 34 tackles in 2012 (23 solo, 11 assisted), six sacks for a loss of 38 yards and eight quarterback hurries. Ford was named second team All-SEC by the SEC media and fourth team preseason All-SEC by Athlon. He also represented Auburn at SEC Media Days. Ford will be looked upon to bring senior leadership to an Auburn defense that has had trouble in the past.

No. 2 - Jermaine Whitehead

The junior safety started all 12 games last season for Auburn. He recorded 86 tackles in 2012 (40 solo, 46 assisted), five pass break-ups, four tackles for loss, one sack and a fumble recovery. He ranked 13th in tackles per game averaging 7.17 a game. Whitehead will look to continue his progress on the field with a positive campaign in 2013.

No. 3 - Demetruce McNeal

The senior free safety started all 12 games last season for the Tigers. He had 90 tackles last year (53 solo, 37 assisted), seven tackles for loss, four pass break-ups and a forced fumble. He averaged 7.50 tackles a game making him the SEC’s 11th-best for tackles per game. He was named fourth team preseason All-SEC by Athlon. McNeal will bring experience and leadership to an already talented defensive backfield.

No. 4 - Justin Garrett

The junior linebacker was a reserve last year, but has found a new home at the star position in defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson’s new defense. He had 12 tackles last year (6 solo, 6 assisted) and a forced fumble. He was named the 2013 A-Day defensive MVP after an impressive showing. Garrett could be the difference maker for Auburn’s defense in 2013.

No. 5 - Chris Davis

The senior cornerback started all 12 games for Auburn last year. He recorded 46 tackles last year (25 solo, 21 assisted), three pass break-ups and a tackle for loss. He was named third team preseason All-SEC by the SEC media. He also represented Auburn at SEC Media Days and was on the SEC Honor roll. Davis had injury problems last year that held him out of three games. If he stays healthy, he can be a big-time contributor for the Tigers this season.

No. 6 - Gabe Wright

The junior defensive tackle played in 12 games for the Tigers in 2012, starting the last five. He had 19 tackles last year (12 solo, 7 assisted), six quarterback hurries, four tackles for loss and a sack. Wright had an injury-free spring and is looking to capitalize on his health to be a top performer this fall.

No. 7 - Carl Lawson

The freshman defensive end has yet to take a snap for Auburn, but is already anticipated as an elite threat for the Tigers. As a senior in high school, he recorded 78 tackles with 44 for loss and 27 sacks. Lawson was a 5-star coming out of high school and the No. 1 defensive end in the nation by 247Sports Composite. He was also named first-team All-American by 247Sports. Lawson has the potential to be an elite player for the Tigers in 2013 and on.

No. 8 – Kenneth Carter

The senior defensive end played in all 12 games last year in the defensive tackle rotation. He had 17 tackles (8 solo, 9 assisted), three quarterback hurries and a tackle for loss. He moved to defensive end during the spring and has since impressed both players and coaches. Carter will be unique defensive end that has an opportunity to become dominant in the SEC.

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