Alem emerges as LSU's top pass-rusher

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

If somebody would have predicted back in August that an LSU player would be leading the SEC in sacks 10 weeks into the season, I probably would have agreed.

Tyson Jackson or Ricky Jean-Francois would have been logical candidates or even Kirston Pittman, who led the Tigers with eight sacks last season.

But Rahim Alem?

The LSU junior defensive end is tied with Auburn's Antonio Coleman for the SEC lead in sacks. They each have six. Alem's sack last week against Tulane resulted in a fumble by Tulane quarterback Joe Kemp that LSU cornerback Chris Hawkins picked up and returned 24 yards for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 21-3 halftime lead.

"He's a guy that has grown up in the program and has leadership ability and really has taken the responsibility to heart to make his team better and make himself better," LSU coach Les Miles said of Alem, who had two career sacks entering this season.

Alem has six of the Tigers' 18 sacks this season. They had 37 a year ago and would like it if a few more front guys could consistently get to the quarterback.

Aside from being one of LSU's top pass-rushers, Alem is a pretty interesting story all the way around. He legally changed his name during the spring of 2006. His given name was Alfred Marvin Jones Jr. His new name is part Swahili, part Arabic and has nothing to do with a religious conversion, but rather his African heritage.

Alem is also the older brother of LSU safety Chad Jones. Their father, Al, was a defensive end at Tulane from 1976-78.