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Gross, Nkemdiche Named All-SEC

Issac Gross
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports Information

Rookie duo helped lead Rebels’ much-improved defense in 2012
From Ole Miss Sports Information
After helping lead a revamped and much-improved Ole Miss defense throughout the 2012 season, freshmen Issac Gross and Denzel Nkemdiche were recognized Thursday by being named to the Freshman All-Southeastern Conference team, the league announced.
A true freshman, Gross made the most of his 254-pound frame in the trenches against some of the country’s best offensive lines. Gross, a Batesville, Miss., native, started seven games this season and finished second in the SEC among freshmen with nine tackles for loss, trailing only Nkemdiche on the list. Gross had 38 tackles overall, including a season-high seven at No. 6 Georgia. Gross recorded 2.5 sacks on the year, including one at Georgia, one against Heisman Trophy favorite Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, and one at No. 1 Alabama.
Nkemdiche’s nod to the Freshman All-SEC team comes on the heels of being named All-SEC second team by the Associated Press. Nkemdiche, a redshirt-freshman, earned a starting role at Stinger out of preseason camp and helped lead the Rebels from a last-place preseason pick all the way to a bowl game. An undersized SEC linebacker at 5-foot-11 and 203 pounds, he leads Ole Miss with 78 tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and three interceptions this year.
Nkemdiche is tied for eighth in the SEC and tops among freshmen with 1.0 tackles for loss per outing, and third nationally among all freshmen. He’s one of just two SEC players that forced four fumbles in league play, along with SEC Defensive Player of the Year Jarvis Jones from Georgia.
Twelve SEC football squads were represented on the 13th annual SEC Coaches’ All-Freshman Team. SEC Champion Alabama, Florida and Texas A&M led the way with four selections each, while Arkansas and South Carolina placed three on the team. Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss each had two.
Ole Miss will play in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 5 in Birmingham, Ala. The Rebels will square off against the Pitt Panthers for the first time in the two programs’ storied histories.

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