SEC Football: Out with the Old, In with the New
By Jeremy Hillman
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With some talent leaving and some talent coming back, SEC teams will spend the off-season reloading and readjusting.
Without a doubt, the SEC is losing a significant amount of talent this off-season. Not only does the conference lose top seniors to graduation, they also lose an amazing 31 underclassmen early to the NFL. With more than 50 elite players leaving the conference, it will be interesting to watch the impact that has on the 2013 season.
Before we get into recruiting and the upcoming National Signing Day, let’s look at what elite talent has been removed from SEC rosters and what elite talent remains.
Below is a ranking of the biggest losses among seniors and the biggest losses among the underclassmen for the conference programs. Then we will look at the top talent that remains in the SEC for next season:
Top 10 Losses (Seniors):
1. Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson
2. Mississippi State DB Johnthan Banks
3. Arkansas WR Cobi Hamilton
4. Alabama S Robert Lester
5. Georgia DB Bacarri Rambo
6. Mississippi State LB Cameron Lawrence
7. Missouri LB Will Ebner
8. Mississippi State WR Chad Bumphis
9. Vanderbilt RB Zac Stacy
10. Mississippi State DB Darius Slay
Top 10 Losses (Underclassmen):
1. Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel
2. Georgia LB Jarvis Jones
3. South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore
4. Alabama OT D.J. Fluker
5. Texas A&M DL Damontre Moore
6. Tennessee WR Justin Hunter
7. LSU DE Sam Montgomery
8. Alabama RB Eddie Lacy
9. Florida S Matt Elam
10. Alabama CB Dee Milliner
Clearly, based on my lists above, Mississippi State and Alabama took the biggest hit in regards to losing top talent. However, although LSU only has one player listed above, they have lost the most overall talent (11 total underclassmen and a couple key seniors) and took , by far, the biggest hit of any SEC program this off-season. Tennessee and Florida lost their fair share of starters and Texas A&M lost a few key pieces as well. Most other SEC programs had some level of loss, but not to the level of the aforementioned group.
However, before anyone assumes the SEC will see a drastic drop in success because of the exodus of so many talented players, let me remind them that the Southeastern Conference is stacked with elite football talent and, in many cases, will sufficiently reload. Take a look at the impressive list of top elite returning players:
Top 10 SEC Players Returning for 2013:
1. South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney (13 sacks and 24 tackles for a loss in 2012)
2. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (2012 Heisman winner)
3. Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews (94 catches for 1,328 yards last season)
4. Georgia QB Aaron Murray (3,893 passing yards and 36 passing touchdowns this past year)
5. Alabama QB A.J. McCarron (30 passing touchdowns and just three interceptions last season)
6. Georgia RB Todd Gurley (1,385 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 2012)
7. Alabama LB C.J. Mosley (107 total tackles this past season)
8. Alabama RB T.J. Yeldon (1,108 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns as a backup in 2012)
9. Texas A&M WR Mike Evans (82 catches for 1,105 yards last season)
10. Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief (2012: 66 receptions, 979 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns)
With some talent leaving and some talent coming back, SEC teams will spend the off-season reloading and readjusting. When the season kicks off in 2013, the drop off will be less than some predict for the conference as a whole, but some SEC programs (talking about you LSU and Mississippi State) will have plenty of work to do to avoid a let-down.
The next step in the process of refilling talent is recruiting. Don’t miss the countdown to National Signing Day coverage on SouthernPigskin.com!