The SoCon’s Top 20 Playmakers: Part Two
By Russell V.
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These ten SoCon playmakers could make an impact in any conference in the nation.
Yesterday we gave you part one of our countdown of the top playmakers in the Southern Conference (http://www.southernpigskin.com/SOCON/view/the-socons-top-20-playmakers-part-one).
Today we move on to the top 10. Here are the 10 best playmakers in the SoCon, starting with one of the league's premiere signal callers.
10. Terrell Robinson, QB Chattanooga
Coming into the 2011 season, Robinson wasn’t expected to be more than a third-string quarterback of the future. Fast forward to today, where he is the 2011 co-SoCon Freshman of the Year after scoring 11 touchdowns in just five games. He is one of, if not the, most exciting young talents in the SoCon. Lord knows what he will be able to do in a full season.
9. Jerodis Williams, RB, Furman
Often overlooked thanks to a certain back at Wofford, Williams has proven to be one of the best in the country. Last season, he became the first Furman back since Hindley Brigham in 2003 to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. Oh, and he was also tied for seventh in the conference in touchdowns scored with nine. Now that he will become the focal point of the offense, can we expect, oh, say a 1,200-1,300 yard, 11-12 touchdown season from the senior?
8. Jeremy Kimbrough, LB, ASU
If the SoCon had a comeback player of the year award, Kimbrough would have run away with it last season. After struggling with injuries during his sophomore season, he came back with a vengeance in his junior campaign. He ranked among the best in the conference in tackles (105), tackles for loss (12) and sacks (four) – and he missed a game last year due to suspension. Keep an eye on #33, if you can keep up with him.
7. Kelsey Pope, WR, Samford
If you have been keeping up with my work, then you know I am huge fan of versatility, and there may not be a more versatile player in the nation than Pope. He did it all last season offensively – 86 catches for 810 yards and six TDs. 33 rushes for 175 yards and four TDs. 4-of-6 passing for 66 yards and another TD. And he even returned kickoffs. Pope is a game changer in so many ways for the Bulldogs. Reminds me a lot of Appalachian State’s Travaris Cadet (who did pretty well for the Saints Sunday night).
6. Dominique Swope, RB, Georgia Southern
While Eric Breitenstien may be the best running back in the conference, there is no more explosive back – heck, maybe overall player – than Swope. You want to talk about bursting on the scene? How about 1,023 yards, 6.3 yards per carry (both third-best in the SoCon) and seven touchdowns in your freshman year? Or, you could just look at his playoff game against Old Dominion, where he merely totaled 255 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, the final of his three-straight 150+ yard games – which included a game against eventual FBS champion Alabama. I’d be very shocked if he does not end up on the top of this list a few years from now.
5. Jamal Jackson, QB, ASU
It’s never easy when you take over at quarterback at one of the top programs in the country midway through the season. Well, unless you are Jamal Jackson. The rising junior led the Mountaineers to a 5-2 record in his seven games as a starter, accounted for 17 touchdowns and set a school record for passing yards by a sophomore (2,001). Now, he has had a full offseason as the undisputed offensive leader for App State and is now the best quarterback in the SoCon. Can he lead the Mountaineers back to the top of conference?
4. Wes Dothard, LB, Chattanooga
Know what I want in a defender? I want a guy who can do it all: stop the run, defend the pass and force turnovers. Seems basic, right? Want to know who did that better than anyone in 2011? This guy, Wes Dothard. Just look at the season the All-American had last year: 98 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, six passes defended and five fumbles forced – all among the best in the conference. There is a good reason Dothard is on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List – Dothard is a legit threat to make a game-changing play at any time.
3. Eric Breitenstein, RB, Wofford
Running the ball is a lost art in today’s pass-first, second and third brand of football. Bretenstein is a throwback to the old days of smashmouth, power football. Last season, he carried the ball 268 times for 1,474 yards (tops in the conference, third-best in school history and 10th-best in the nation) and 19 touchdowns. He set a school record with 10 games of 100+ rushing yards and will most likely set a couple more this season: he is third in career rushing yards and second in career rushing touchdowns. It is a shame we only get one more year to enjoy his running style. Perhaps it’ll end in another SoCon Offensive Player of the Year award?
2. Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon
Breitenstein certainly would be considered the favorite to win SoCon Offensive Player of the Year, unless Mellette has anything to say about it. He had the unenviable task of trying to replace Terrell Hudgins, and I think it is safe to say he has done an amazing job of it. Many scouts are already excited at the possibility of drafting Mellette, who finished last year with 113 catches for a school and conference record 1,639 yards to go along with 12 touchdowns. Those are just downright ridiculous video game numbers. He had nine 100-yard receiving games and even broke the 200-yard mark twice. Mellette has the ability to take over games like few can, so it is no surprise to find him this high up on the list.
1. Brent Russell, DT, Georgia Southern
It is a coin flip trying to compare who is better between Russell and Mellette. Both are amazing athletes in their own right and both are the best at their position. If forced to pick one (and what do you know, I am), I guess I’d have to go with the one they call ‘Manbearpig.’ 6-2, 300 pounds of pure beast, he finished with 67 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, all while constantly being double- and triple-teamed by offensive linemen. There is a reason that Russell is considered the best lineman in the country (heck, maybe even the best defender period). If that doesn’t get you the top spot on this list, very few things will.