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Pre-Spring Power Rankings: SEC East

By Southern Pigskin Staff
SouthernPigskin.com
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Early pre-spring power rankings for the SEC East.

1. Georgia -- With an impressive depth chart returning, the Bulldogs, who led the nation in both scoring and total defense a year ago, may be even better on that side of the football this fall. Safety Richard LeCounte leads a secondary that will be as good as it gets. Though there has been attrition on offense, there is also opportunity. New coordinator Todd Monken comes in from the NFL ranks, along with high-profile quarterback Jamie Newman from Wake Forest. Expect more big plays.

2. Florida -- There is a lot to like with the Gators, who are now emerging national contenders. Kyle Trask is the best returning quarterback in the SEC after 25 touchdown passes in less than a full year as starter. He has playmakers galore, including the nation's top tight end in Kyle Pitts. Considerable depth and talent in the secondary remains a leading Florida fixture. Dan Mullen, who has been successful on the recruiting trail and with transfers, has program-wide momentum in Gainesville.

3. Tennessee -- The Volunteers have won an impressive six games in a row, one of the longest current streaks in all of college football. Jeremy Pruitt has Tennessee believing and, importantly, returning plenty of talent as well. Led by an elite offensive line featuring the likes of All-American candidate Trey Smith and great depth, the Volunteers will likely be able to win games at the line of scrimmage. Expect competition at quarterback to be a leading off-season theme.

4. South Carolina -- Defensively, the Gamecocks are set to have a strong foundation. Linebacker Ernest Jones is one of the SEC's best, fresh off 97 total tackles and 59 solo stops. The versatile Israel Mukuamu, the star of South Carolina's upset of Georgia, is back after four interceptions. Tackle Aaron Sterling reached double figures in tackles for loss to go along with six sacks. Quarterback Ryan Hilinski showed off impressive potential as a true freshman and is the face of the Gamecocks moving forward.

5. Missouri -- Former Appalachian State head coach Eli Drinkwitz takes over in Columbia-west. He, as an accomplished offensive mind, will need to stabilize the Tigers' passing game. Linebacker Nick Bolton ranked fifth in the nation in solo tackles with 74 last season. He leads a defense that quietly ranked third in the SEC, allowing just 312 total yards per game. Veteran running back Larry Rountree III has quite the resume: 2,748 career rushing yards and 26 rushing touchdowns.

6. Kentucky -- Though replacing a one-of-a-kind superstar in Lynn Bowden, Jr. will be near impossible, a healthy Terry Wilson gives the Wildcats something not many teams in the SEC have in returning experience and production at quarterback. Throw in running backs Asim Rose and Kavosiey Smoke and Kentucky has a lot to like in the offensive backfield. Playmakers will need to be identified on the perimeter. Considerable retooling must be done on defense.

7. Vanderbilt -- Defense will have to take center stage for the Commodores as high-profile offensive stars have moved on. That said, Vanderbilt's top eleven tacklers all return, most notably linebacker Dimitri Moore, 99 total tackles, and lineman Dayo Odeyingbo, 12 tackles for loss. An offense that ranked 124th nationally in 2019 with 296.7 total yards per game has to hit the reset button across the board.