Published September 19, 2012 - 8:25am
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There has been much shifting going on since the original preseason watch list, which is to be expected:
1. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia (JR): Aaron Murray has been playing very well through the first three weeks of the season, and he’s playing as good as anyone in the conference as a whole. Murray has posted 842 yards passing with eight touchdowns and two INTs. He steamrolled FAU last week, posting a career-high 342 yards through the air and accounting for four total touchdowns. Yeah, I know it was FAU, but he already has one signature win on the road at Missouri. He’s off to a fantastic start, but much tougher games loom ahead on the schedule.
2. Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida (SR): Senior Mike Gillislee is off to a frenzied start for the Gators. He currently leads the conference in rushing (346 yards) and is tied for second with four touchdowns. And it’s not like he’s doing it against Sun Belt teams, either. He was Florida’s leading rusher last week against Tennessee with 18 carries for 115 yards. Gillislee has been nursing a sore groin for the last two games, but even that hasn’t been able to slow him down. This kid has been exceptional and portrays toughness for the Gators through three weeks.
3. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia (JR): I know Jarvis Jones didn’t play last week because he sat out with an injury. They didn’t need him, either. Defensive players don’t usually get a shot at the Heisman, but Jones is the best defensive player in the toughest defensive conference in the country. He’s posted 17 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks already in two games. Can’t wait to see him make a return this week against Vanderbilt.
4. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama (JR): McCarron doesn’t have eye-popping numbers like other quarterbacks around the SEC, but he’s the face of the top program in the country. He’s progressing as a leader and a passer, and I’m going to give him some love. And while he might not have really nasty numbers, he’s the most efficient quarterback in the SEC. He’s thrown for 607 yards and seven touchdowns and has completed 64.3 percent of his passes. He’ll continue to exploit defenses that load the box to stop the run against the Tide.
5. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina (JR): We are still waiting on Lattimore to really get going. He had a breakout game against Vanderbilt with 110 yards and two touchdowns rushing, but he hasn’t done much since. However, he did just break the career touchdown mark at Carolina with his 34th career touchdown last week. How’s that for a junior who missed half of his sophomore season? Pretty good, I’ll say. Look for Carolina to rely on him more this week with Connor Shaw’s health in question.
Tyler Russell, QB, Mississippi State (JR): One of the more under-the-radar players in the SEC this season has been MSU’s Tyler Russell. Russell, the first-year starter, is dealing right now against defenses. He’s thrown for 651 yards and a tied for the league-high eight touchdowns. He’s completed only 58.2 percent of his passes, but he’s led MSU to a 3-0 start with a very manageable schedule ahead.