SEC Football: 2012 Awards Projections
By Jeremy Hillman
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There will be plenty of competition for the SEC accoloades this fall.
In less than a week the 2012 college football season will be upon us. Teams of the Southeastern Conference will begin their battles for conference supremacy and individual players and coaches will start on their paths to post-season honors.
Who will walk away with the awards this season? Here is my look at my projections for each SEC accolade:
Coach Of The Year
WINNER: James Franklin, Vanderbilt
2. Les Miles, LSU
3. Nick Saban, Alabama
4. Gene Chizik, Auburn
5. Will Muschamp, Florida
There will be teams and coaches with more wins than Vanderbilt and James Franklin this season. However, voters will recognize the extreme turnaround going on with the Commodore program and give the post-season award to Franklin, who should lead Vanderbilt to their second consecutive bowl game in 2012 with at least one major upset. If Vanderbilt falters, look for the winner of the LSU versus Alabama game (Miles or Saban) to step in and receive the accolade.
Offensive Player Of The Year
WINNER: Marcus Lattimore, RB South Carolina
2. Tyler Wilson, QB Arkansas
3. James Franklin, QB Missouri
4. Justin Hunter, WR Tennessee
5. Aaron Murray, QB Georgia
This may be the easiest pick on the list. If Marcus Lattimore stays healthy, he will literally run away with this award. He is a big part of the South Carolina attack and the Gamecocks have the potential to be a 10+ win type of team this season. If Lattimore gets injured again this season, look for hugely underrated quarterback James Franklin from Missouri to receive considerable consideration. He is a very dangerous weapon and will have to carry the Tigers into the SEC. Wouldn’t it be something if James Franklin wins Coach Of The Year and Offensive Player Of The Year in the same season? However, keep an eye out on the “Tyler” QBs too (Tyler Bray and Tyler Wilson), as they could put up big numbers and take the award.
Defensive Player Of The Year
WINNER: Jarvis Jones, LB Georgia
2. Sam Montgomery, DL LSU
3. Jadevoen Clowney, DL South Carolina
4. Corey Lemonier, DL Auburn
5. Johnthan Banks, CB Miss State
Jarvis Jones is the very best defensive player in the nation, in my opinion. He will have a huge season and be drafted in the top five picks of next year’s NFL draft. However, the SEC is filled with big-time defensive talent and a number of players could make a run at this award. The defensive linemen are forces in this league and will cause havoc in opposing backfields all season. Guys like Clowney, Lemonier, Barkevious Mingo (LSU), John Jenkins (Georgia), and Devin Taylor (South Carolina) are all dominant linemen and could move up this list. Also look for a big year from underrated defensive back Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State. He is the conference’s best shut down corner and could get in the mix for this award with a few key picks and a winning season from the Bulldogs.
Special Teams Player Of The Year
WINNER: Andre Dubose, KR Florida
1. Drew Alleman, K LSU
2. Caleb Sturgis, K Florida
3. Dustin Harris, KR Texas A&M
4. Brad Wing, P LSU
There are plenty of dangerous return men in the SEC and I look for one of them to win this award; two of the best this season should be Dubose and Harris. However, return men like Auburn’s Tre Mason (led the SEC in average yards per return in 2011) and Arkansas’ Dennis Johnson could find their way onto this list as well. Place kicking is a big part of winning in college football, just ask Alabama after the regular season LSU loss last season. Two of the top kickers in the nation, Alleman and Sturgis, lead the conference and should become finalist for this accolade in 2012. A punter is a long shot, but LSU’s Brad Wing makes an impact in games and could earn some consideration.
Freshman Of The Year
WINNER: Kris Frost, LB Auburn
2. Mike Evans, WR Texas A&M
3. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR Missouri
4. Channing Ward, DE Ole Miss
5. T.J. Yeldon, RB Alabama
To win this award, you almost have to be a starter as a freshman. Frost was a top recruit in 2010 and a talented red-shirt freshman coming in to strengthen what was a light linebacking corps for Auburn last season. He should rack up plenty of tackles and big plays to earn this award. However, look for two young receivers, Evans and Beckham, to make a splash as the top young talents on the two new SEC programs. If Alabama starting running back Eddie Lacey gets injured and misses time, big and fast T.J. Yeldon will move into the starting role and would most likely end up winning this 2012 accolade.