clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The five most underrated defensive players in the AAC

Time to take a look at the defensive side of the ball.

NCAA Football: Marshall at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

This part two of our two part series of highlighting underrated players in the AAC. If you missed part one for underrated offensive players, go click here.

While we all know Ed Oliver is going to snag all the headlines coming into this season, there are a few other players I think AAC fans need to know. Again, in no particular order, here are the players in the AAC that you should know about that are not going to receive much attention.

Marquis Copeland, Defensive End, Cincinnati

A lot of people are high on Cincinnati this season and this kid will be a big reason why the Bearcats may have some success. This veteran defensive lineman is 6’3’’ and 290 lbs. This past season he played in all 12 games with a total of 63 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. All these totals were an increase from his 2016 season where he also played 12 games. Copeland is going to be a scary and exciting player who could make an all-conference team.

Ronnie Hoggins, Defensive back, USF

Hoggins has big shoes to fill. After Deatrick Nichols graduated, Hoggins appears to be moving to the Nickel in order to help the team out on defense. He is undersized, but is extremely quick and has good tackling technique. The greatest trait that isn’t recorded on the stat sheet is how great of a leader he is. He came in and played as a freshman and learned from all the great USF DBs. Now, he is the leader. He has improved his numbers each season and will look to have an even bigger season in the Nickel.

Mikial Onu, Defensive back, SMU

Onu will be paired up with one of the best DBs in the conference, Jordan Wyatt, to patrol the secondary. Due to Jordan Wyatt being one of the main cogs in the SMU defense, Onu will be overlooked. Overall, Onu is a veteran on this team and made a massive jump from his freshman to his sophomore year. For example, as a freshman Onu had 28 total tackles. During his sophomore year, he accumulated 105 total tackles. In addition, he recorded up two interceptions. He may be overlooked, but he is worth mentioning despite SMU’s overall defense being known for bad performances.

Khalid McGee, Linebacker, USF

McGee is a former DB turned LB. During last year’s War on I-4, we saw Charlie Strong showcasing McGee as a linebacker in order to keep up with UCF’s speed. While Auggie Sanchez was a fantastic LB, he was not nearly as fast as McGee. Thus, making a large impact on that game. Well now, McGee has made the full on switch from DB to LB, and has put on the weight to show the transition. Numerous reports say that he will be the Auggie Sanchez of this season. If that is the case, USF will be very good in the LB position.

NCAA Football: Temple at Cincinnati
Quincy Roche
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Quincy Roche, Defensive linemam, Temple

While Roche is more spoken about than most of the players I mentioned, he is definitely not perceived as one of the top players in the AAC. Roche is a sophomore coming off a huge freshman season. He accumulated 31 total tackles, 11.5 of which were for a loss, and 7 sacks. Roche appears to be the future of the conference at defensive line and will be a scary player in the Eastern division. He is a big hitter with great get-off and acceleration to catch up to a scrambling quarterback. He was projected to make second team all-conference, but in reality he should be on the first team.

Who do you think is the most underrated defensive player in the AAC? Sound off in the comments below and vote in the poll.


Who is the most underrated Defensive Player in the AAC?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Marquis Copeland
    (2 votes)
  • 21%
    Ronnie Hoggins
    (6 votes)
  • 10%
    Mikial Onu
    (3 votes)
  • 32%
    Khalid McGee
    (9 votes)
  • 28%
    Quincy Roche
    (8 votes)
28 votes total Vote Now