Here are a few seniors who are sometimes forgotten souls in the SEC and on their own teams, but they have a chance to go out with a bang in their respective bowl games:
Alabama S Robert Lester: Lester is the one guy on Alabama’s defense who has seen it all, and he’s a celebrated winner, too. He’s played in the golden era of Alabama football, as the Tide have won two of the last three championships and are shooting for back-to-back championships for the first time in the BCS era. Lester has helped Alabama to a 48-5 record during his four years. He’s notched 14 career interceptions, and he hopes to help lead his defense to another championship to cap off his career.
Florida LB Jon Bostic: If you look at Florida’s top five linebackers since the 90s, you won’t find Jon Bostic on there. But he’s meant more to the defense as a leader than anything else throughout his career. He’s third on the team in total tackles with 62, notching 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks this season. He’s not the best middle linebacker in the SEC, and he may not even be the best linebacker on his own team. But Bostic’s leadership of transitioning over from the Urban Meyer regime to the Will Muschamp era has been fascinating to watch. Muschamp has made Bostic a better player, and he’s been an impact player for the first time in his career in his senior season. Bostic will try to help lift Florida to 12 wins against Louisville.
Georgia WR Tavarres King: The more talented Malcolm Mitchell largely overshadows King’s production, but no one has meant more to Aaron Murray over the last three years than King. King has totaled 131 catches for 2,432 yards and 20 touchdowns over his four-year career, and he gets a chance at one of the best pass defenses in the country in Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. He hasn’t notched a 1,000-yard receiving season yet, but he’s been that steady performer that Murray can rely on throughout his career.
LSU WR Russell Shepard: One of the most highly decorated players coming out of high school, Shepard has never lived up to the hype. The former quarterback turned receiver has struggled throughout his career to make an impact on any facet of the game, whether running or receiving. Shepard has only caught 58 passes for 570 yards and five touchdowns and rushed 104 times for 716 yards and five touchdowns in four years. We’ve been waiting on Shepard to break out now for four seasons, and it just hasn’t happened. But he could have a big game against Clemson and go out on a high note.
Miss State CB Johnthan Banks: Banks is one of the most decorated players in the country, as he is the Jim Thorpe Award winner in 2012. He’s a big corner at 6-2, and he’s tallied 16 total interceptions in four seasons at State. Banks has a big future in the NFL, and he’s the very definition of a ball hawkin’ corner with a nose for the football. Banks needs to lift a struggling defense and team back to early ‘12 form and get back to winning against Northwestern in the Gator Bowl.
Ole Miss ATH Randall Mackey: You haven’t heard Randall Mackey’s name much this season in Ole Miss’ crazy turnaround. You hear a lot about Bo Wallace, Jeff Scott and Donte Moncrief, but Mackey is the total team player. The once JUCO transfer at quarterback now doesn’t exactly have a home position. He plays some running back and some receiver, and I’m sure Hugh Freeze appreciates Mackey’s attitude and desire to help the team. Mackey has a chance to cap off this season’s awesome revival with a win over Pitt in the Compass Bowl.
South Carolina DE Devin Taylor: Exiting Taylor’s sophomore season, we thought Taylor would be what Jadeveon Clowney currently is. But his production has decreased over the last couple of seasons, as teams began to realize his crazy athletic ability at 6-8, 270 pounds. Taylor recorded 7.5 sacks in 2010, but he’s totaled just nine in the last two seasons. The arrival of Clowney and the explosion of Melvin Ingram overshadowed Taylor last year, but he only has three sacks in ‘12. He has a great frame that NFL scouts love, and he’ll make an impact at the next level. Taylor will spend his final game as a Gamecock chasing Denard Robinson all around the yard in Tampa.
Texas A&M C Patrick Lewis: Johnny Manziel has been unreal this season, but often times the offensive line for the Aggies is extremely overlooked. Tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews get most of the pub, but senior Patrick Lewis has been a solid figure on the interior of the line. Lewis makes all the calls for the line, and his play is largely overlooked. Lewis would want nothing more than to donkey-stomp the Sooners at Jerry World.
Vanderbilt RB Zac Stacy: The most underrated player in the SEC lives in Nashville, and his name is Zac Stacy. Stacy became Vandy’s all-time leading rusher with his small, compact bowling-ball-like frame weaving in and out of traffic. Stacy has notched back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, and he’s meant so much to James Franklin and what he’s trying to build in Nashville currently. Stacy is probably licking his chops in looking to go against ACC-foe NC State in the Music City Bowl. It would be a beautiful exit of sorts.
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