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Belt Loops: Akron's front seven at a glance

P.J. Fleck isn't the only MAC coach bringing in Power Five caliber players.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The Terry Bowden era of Akron Zips football has been better than anything fans have seen in nearly ten years. Bowden's building project began with one of the most prolific offensive attacks Akron has ever had, led by Daulton Williams. In that same year, the Zips gave up 35.7 points per game.

A lot sure has changed since 2013 as Bowden handed over the offensive play calling to then 27-year-old A.J. Milwee, and coaching legend Chuck Amato's defense has been coming together since then.

The Line

Three of the four starters on the defensive line are transfers from Power Five programs. Ohio State Buckeyes transfer Se'Von Pittman, who attended Canton McKinley High School right down the road from Akron before going to OSU. A 6-foot-3, 268-pound junior, Pittman was red-shirted at OSU as a freshman in 2012 before transferring to Akron in 2013. Last year, he recorded 36 tackles and one sack for the Zips.

Next to Pittman is 6-foot-3 305-pound tackle Rodney Coe, previously with the Iowa State Cyclones. In 2013, he recorded 36 tackles with just under five sacks. Coe had to find a new team to play for after leaving Iowa State for a violation of several team rules and policies. Coe spent the fall of 2014 at Iowa Western Community College.

The nose guard for the Zips will be All-MAC First Team performer Cody Grice. One of the best defensive lineman in the MAC is also the best two-way player in the MAC. Cody was known for tearing up offenses before Bowden pulled out the "WHAM-O" (Don't quote me on the spelling) package on the road against the Pittsburgh Panthers when Grice ran for two touchdowns at the goal line. They kept going to him in short yardage situations for the remainder of the season.

The other defensive end for Akron looks like it's going to be another Buckeyes transfer. Jamal Marcus, a former four-star recruit (per 247Sports), filled in for a suspended Noah Spence in the 2014 Orange Bowl against Clemson, where he recorded six tackles and a tipped pass. Marcus transferred to Akron after a "mutual decision" was reached between he and the school.

The Linebackers

Dylan Evans has flown under many people's radar in his career at Akron. In 2012 as a freshman, Evans recorded 23 tackles in limited playing time. As a sophomore in 2013, Evans was one of the keys to Akron's late season hot streak. He recorded 27 tackles in the final five games, including 13 in a loss to Ball State. Evans saw his numbers dip in 2014, but he was one of the driving forces behind a great Zips defense in his junior year.

Of all the transfers that Bowden was able to bring in, Darryl Monroe might be the best one. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound senior from Orlando, Florida transferred from Washington State to utilize his final year of eligibility at Akron. Monroe recorded seven double-digit tackle games in his career at Wazzu, including ten against Oregon in 2014, one of which was a sack of Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

Next up is arguably the top returning defensive player in the MAC, Jatavis Brown. The senior, also from Florida, has become the gem of the first Bowden recruiting class. While he was in Belle Glade, Brown would engage in a neighborhood-wide activity of chasing rabbits. No seriously, Belle Glade has produced numerous professional players in the past including current Panthers standout Kelvin Benjamin. To make a long story short, Brown's speed to the ball makes him so difficult to contain. In the final four games of 2013, Brown recorded 56 total tackles. As a junior, he had four more double digit tackle games, including 12 solo tackles and two sacks against Eastern Michigan. Man, he is fun to watch.


The seven players above aren't the only members of the defensive front that are great. Jerome Lane Jr. (Yes, THAT Jerome Lane) can play at all three levels of the defense very well. Freshman defensive lineman Brock Boxen looked great at the spring game. This is one of the few parts of Akron's team that has significant depth.

Oh, and I'll bet you want to know what Terry Bowden's #HAWT #TAKES are on transfers in college football. Check out this piece by Bleacher Report.