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SI All-American: Honorable Mention Defensive Edge Prospects

SI All-American released its top 10 defensive edge rankings for the college football recruiting class of 2021 recently and follows it up with the top contenders who were also involved in the discussion.

As SI All-American details a deep dive into the college football recruiting class of 2021, by position, the shift to the defensive side of the ball took center stage over the last week.

After sorting through the elite edge defenders nationally, SIAA released its top 10 prospects ahead of the 2020 season on Friday. It's the 10th of 14 positions to be ranked over the next week. The tail-end of the discussion featured candidates with the resume to contend for spots in either top 10.

These are the prospects right on the edge of the ranking, or honorable mention, listed alphabetically. 

David Abiara, Mansfield (Texas) Mansfield Legacy

6-foot-4, 248 pounds

Committed to Notre Dame

Abiara fits well on the edges, notably as a strong-side player. He has a well-built and sturdy frame, which he uses to play big. The Notre Dame commit is consistent to set the edge with an accurate punch on the breastplate of his targets and he can extend and lock his arms out. Showing instincts at the point, Abiara can convert his punch into a single long arm and use power to walk linemen back. As a pass-rusher, he likes to rely on his rip to get clean from clutches of blockers. Already near the 250-pound range, there’s a solid chance Abiara will offer Notre Dame some flexibility to be multiple in its fronts later in his career as an interior pass-rusher on various sub-packages.

Zavier Carter, Atlanta (Ga.) Hapeville Charter

6-foot-4, 200 pounds

Committed to LSU

While he is among the lighter-framed prospects on this list, Carter is twitchy at the snap and can simply jump on top of offensive tackles. He spends most of his time with his hand down as a 7-technique defensive end crashing from the edges to consistently move passers off their launch points. He possesses a confident on-field demeanor, along with toughness at the point. Carter can feel flow on the edge in the run game and maintain phase with tackles and tight ends while holding outside contain. Carter will need to add to his mitt package in college, as well add mass to his frame, yet we feel he projects well as a speed-rusher who can consistently threaten SEC tackles at LSU. He fits best as a stand-up buck/viper/jack-type who can put his hand down to rush in sub-packages.

Cade Denhoff, Lakeland (Fla.) Lakeland Christian

6-foot-5, 225 pounds

Committed to Clemson

Hailing from Florida, Denhoff possesses a good motor and plays with impressive effort. He is most comfortable in wide-alignments, as he likes altering his pass-rush track some to disrupt offensive tackles’ punch timing. He flashes a club to land on the outside shoulder/upper-arm of his opponents and a cross-chop with a dip entry in his pass-rush arsenal. With his consistent urgency at the snap and active lower half, Denhoff also can be used well on TEX stunts and other twists and games. The Clemson commit plays snap to whistle, often hunting ball-carriers until he finishes. Denhoff also has gap-penetrating skills that factor in the run game. He can skinny through creases between tackles and guards before using solid closing quickness to pursue and finish. Denhoff will fit in well as a 7/9-technique end for the Tigers.

Travion Ford, St. Peters (Mo.) Lutheran

6-foot-4, 232 pounds

Committed to Missouri

Committed to Missouri, Ford has the potential to develop into an impact edge for the Tigers. Defensive coordinator Ryan Walters runs a 4-2-5 scheme with a good mix of over and tight fronts, where Ford projects as an edge-player. Although the future Tiger has some experience playing with his hand down and anchoring versus the run in the interior, we feel he’s at his best standing up in a buck or jack role. Ford is urgent and active at the snap on a consistent basis, often displaying quick hands to beat blockers at the point and nimble feet to redirect and pursue runners. As he continues to learn there’s no limits to what he can do with his mitts, look for Ford to blossom under Walters and defensive line coach Brick Haley.

Landon Jackson, Texarkana (Texas) Pleasant Grove

6-foot-6, 240 pounds

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Committed to LSU

Jackson, who appears to have recovered well from an ACL injury as a sophomore, is impressive on the hoof due to his length and frame. He plays with a good motor on tape, with experience working on both edges. The Texas native does a fair job using his length at the point when reducing ground and has honest body flexibility and lower-half fluidity to corner to passers after squeezing from entry points. Jackson also has solid mesh-point vision due to his ability to set an edge at the point and quickly locate the football to pursue in the run game. We feel Jackson has some edge-versatility to his game, as he could grow into a stand-up Sam ‘backer in a 3-4 base or into a strong-side end with some interior pass-rush ability in sub-packages at LSU.

Tyreak Sapp, Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas

6-foot-3, 260 pounds

Committed to Florida

Sapp has been on the recruiting industry's radar as long as any elite prospect at any position nationally and he rarely falls short of very high expectations. Armed with a well-developed and compact frame, the Gator commitment wins with natural ability, strength and true polish at a higher frequency than most. He thrives with a go-to cross chop move against blockers while working on the inside or out on Friday nights before showcasing strong leverage and bend ability en route to a sack or tackle for loss. Sapp currently plays mainly on the edges, yet has the potential to grow into an interior defender on a defensive front. With his strength, he can take advantage of blockers with soft shoulders and has enough quickness and gap penetration ability to work against guards at the college level as needed.

George Wilson, Virginia Beach (Va.) Green Run

6-foot-5, 214 pounds

Committed to South Carolina

We like Wilson’s ceiling as an edge prospect, as he currently plays a buck type of position now. The future Gamecock is comfortable standing up and working from a 2-point stance, showing smooth movement skills and athletic ability. Wilson has plus snap quickness to force tackles to open their hips early on the edge, and he also possesses fair flexibility and torso rotation at this point. Wilson finds the ball quickly post-snap and can hunt runners with his speed when pursuing from the backside. The more one watches Wilson, the more obvious it becomes South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp has big-time plans for him as a Buck in Columbia.

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