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Pre-Spring Power Rankings: SEC West

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

1. Alabama -- The return of Najee Harris after 1,224 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns gives the Crimson Tide one of the premier playmakers in the country and a proven offensive centerpiece. Defensively, the linebackers will be the nation's best. Back is All-American leader Dylan Moses, healthy after missing all of last season. He, Christian Harris and Shane Lee will pace another star-studded defense. Quarterback Mac Jones looked really good in filling in for Tua Tagovailoa a year ago.

2. LSU -- Though a lot of talent has moved on to the next level, the defending national champions arguably return the two best players in the SEC in receiver Ja'Marr Chase and cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr. The Tigers bring back four standouts who earned All-SEC honors a year ago; for point of reference, that is the same number as Alabama, twice as many as Auburn and as many as Florida and Georgia combined. Quarterback Myles Brennan obviously steps directly into the spotlight.

3. Texas A&M -- Quarterback Kellen Mond has compiled impressive career numbers, with 70 career total touchdowns. If he can become more consistent, the Aggies will make a run up the division standings. Mond and running back Isaiah Spiller form an elite backfield combination, while leading receiver receiver Jhamon Ausbon and tight end Jalen Wydermyer are all back, not to mention the return of heralded tight end Baylor Cupp from injury. On defense, linebacker Buddy Johnson is a star. 

4. Auburn -- Versatile quarterback Bo Nix is a talented team centerpiece who started right away as a true freshman, scored 23 total touchdowns and led the Tigers to wins over Auburn and Oregon, among others. He should take major steps forward in year two, including with increased proficiency in the passing game. Linebacker K.J. Britt, ten tackles for loss in 2019, is back to headline a defense that will need new some new names to emerge up front. This fall will be a big one for head coach Gus Malzahn.

5. Mississippi State -- Mike Leach will make things interesting in Starkville. The new coach of the Bulldogs will redesign the offense to throw the football and throw it a lot; Stanford-transfer K.J. Costello, who earned second-team All-Pac 12 honors at quarterback in 2018, will help accelerate the transition. He threw for 6,151 career yards and 49 passing touchdowns with the Cardinal. Bringing back 1,350-yard rusher Kylin Hill as the SEC's leading returning rusher gives Mississipi State quite the backfield combo. The defense will be new-look.

6. Ole Miss -- Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee proved to be quite the big play threat as a true freshman and is ready for the next step. He threw for 910 yards and four touchdowns and, quite impressively, rushed for 1,023 yards and 12 scores. Against national champion LSU, Plumlee ran for 212 yards and four touchdowns. The Rebels will have one of the SEC's best collections of linebackers with Lakia Henry, Jacques Jones and MoMo Sanogo. Challenges await for Lane Kiffin, but he has some big names with which to work.

7. Arkansas -- The addition of Florida-transfer Feleipe Franks is a big get for new head coach Sam Pittman and staff. Franks is an accomplished, battle-tested veteran who knows what it takes to win in the SEC. His versatility will help stabilize the Razorbacks. He and running back Rakeem Boyd, 1,133 yards in 2019, will be the face of the team. Linebacker Bumper Pool returns to pace the defense after 94 tackles.