Another three-sack effort for freshman defensive end Derek Barnett, his second such performance of the season, puts him in the conversation as one of the most productive freshman defensive linemen in the storied history of the SEC.
The Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy product drew rave reviews in preseason practice and worked his way into a starting role at defensive end as fall camp progressed, becoming the first true freshman to start on the defensive line in a season opener when he got the nod against Utah State.
He picked up the first sack of his career against Florida, added three more against Ole Miss and again collected a trio against the Gamecocks on Saturday night in Columbia. Three sacks in one game is a Tennessee freshman record.
Now with at least three games remaining on the schedule, Barnett has a chance to chase more history. He’s just one sack away from matching the freshman sack total (8) of former Gamecocks superstar and No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney’s mark of eight sacks in 2011 had been the record for the most by a freshman in SEC history, but Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett topped that season mark on Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe, collecting three sacks himself to move to 10.5 sacks on the season. Barnett has a long way to catch up with Garrett this season, but he has a strong chance to top Clowney’s mark himself and land second on the list, ahead of somebody that many consider one of the most explosive defenders in SEC history.
That’s pretty good company for Barnett.
In total, Barnett has posted 49 tackles (the most for any freshman defender in the SEC so far this season) 14 TFLs (that number ranks second in the SEC), seven sacks and one fumble recovery this season. He has already surpassed Clowney’s freshman numbers for tackles (36) and tackles for loss (12).