Rockdale reached the state final four in 2009 with a defense that allowed an average of 15 points and three players - Neville Hewitt, Grady Jarrett and Jerry Mathis - were a big reason why. That trio, each in their junior year at the college level, continues to make a big impact.
Hewitt, at Marshall, Jarrett, at Clemson, and Mathis (Samford) are all at the top of their respective teams statistically as the college football season hits its midway point.
Hewitt, a linebacker, is the defensive leader in his first season at Marshall. Hewitt, who transferred from Georgia Military College, leads the Thundering Herd in tackles with 42, 2.5 of which have been for a loss, and has added 1.5 sacks and an interception in six games (five starts).
Marshall is 4-2 overall and 2-0 in Conference USA and allowing an average of just 18 points, and are just a three-point loss to Ohio and a 29-21, three-overtime loss to Associated Press No. 16 Virginia Tech away from being unbeaten.
Hewiit and the Thundering Herd travel to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to play Middle Tennessee State Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Jarrett, a defensive tackle at Clemson, is fourth in tackles with 38 (5.5 for a loss) and has added a sack while leading the Tigers with 10 quarterback pressures.
Clemson, which had its unbeaten season come to an end with a 51-14 loss to Florida State but is still 6-1 and ranked No. 9 in the AP Top 25, visits Maryland Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Mathis, a defensive lineman, has 28 tackles, eight of which are for a loss, and is second on the team with 2.5 sacks in seven games.
Samford, which is 5-2 overall and 3-0 in Southern Conference play, travels to Spartanburg, South Carolina to play Wofford Saturday at 12:30 p.m.