Published August 5, 2012 - 2:00pm
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A player with something to prove doesn’t necessarily mean he has not proved anything yet. In fact, some of these players have proved a lot to the fans and their teammates. Others have proved nothing thus far. Either way, these players enter 2012 with something to prove.
Here are seven players – one from every team – with the most to prove in the SEC West for 2012:
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama: Following in the footsteps of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson has certainly cast a big shadow on Eddie Lacy. Alabama’s offense is a downhill power running game attack. We believe he is up for the task, but Ingram and Richardson brought more than just football to the university and the football team. Don’t get me wrong, the accomplishments are all football related. Ingram brought a national championship, as did Richardson. Ingram also brought the Heisman for the first time to Tuscaloosa. Lacy is expected to be the man toting the rock every game, but he has others around him and behind him pushing to get better everyday. He has been the backup for two years, and it’s his time to shine.
Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas: Knile Davis has proven it. Tyler Wilson has too. Now, it’s Chris Gragg’s turn. The rising senior will be of utmost importance in the passing offense now that Arkansas’ No. 2 and No. 3 receivers in Quinta Funderburk (transfer) and Marquel Wade (suspension) are no longer on the team this year. Gragg did have 41 receptions last year, but he should have at least 20 more this season. DJ Williams, the tight end before Gragg, caught 54 passes for 627 yards and six touchdowns his senior year, and he was the top tight end in the entire country. That’s not out of the question for Gragg, either. It’s not so much that Gragg needs to prove his doubters wrong – rather he needs to prove to his quarterback that he can step up for all the wide receiver attrition this team has experienced in last few months and be the No. 1 tight end in the SEC.
Trovon Reed, WR, Auburn: This is his Trovon Reed’s time to shine. He doesn’t want to become the next Russell Shepard and have loads of talent but not be able to figure out what to do with it. Reed only caught 21 passes last year, but he was expected to do big things as a heralded recruit out of Louisiana. Mind you, he’s been plagued with injuries during his first two seasons. But it was a big deal for Auburn to land Reed out of high school. And he is still a big deal if he can get going at receiver. He would be a nice two to a one-two punch with Emory Blake.
Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU: Zach Mettenberger is the most important player in the SEC and to the SEC this season. Expecting to step in and immediately take the offense to another level will be a grueling but accomplishable task. But he doesn’t have to do too much because of the loads of talent around him. He adds the threat of a big downfield arm and won’t let teams load the box, while giving LSU that pocket presence they have been lacking. This is the nearly perfect situation for any quarterback in the country to step into.
Tyler Russell, QB, Mississippi State: The keys to the program now belong to Tyler Russell. The junior quarterback will enter his first season as the irrefutable starting quarterback. He has a ton of pressure to reciprocate what former quarterback Chris Relf accomplished for this program over his tenure, especially Relf’s 2010 nine-win season. Dan Mullen will have to find a balance for his spread-based offense for the pro-style Russell. He is tasked with taking MSU to the next level. Can he do it?
Jeff Scott, RB, Ole Miss: The entire Ole Miss team has something to prove this year. There is a chip on the Rebs’ shoulder. Ole Miss’ top playmaker Jeff Scott has had his good times while in uniform for the Rebs. He’s rushed for 958 yards in his career, but he still has to prove himself? Yes. He has to be the leader who brings change and new attitude to work each day for the Rebels on offense. He has to be the one to help put this program back on the map in the oh-so tough West.
Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M: You haven’t heard of Damontre Moore? He led the Big 12 in tackles-for-loss with 17.5 last year. The Aggies are installing a new 4-3 defense to take over for the former 3-4 scheme that allowed him to excel. But he’s coming into the SEC where defensive linemen are king. Particularly in the SEC West, Moore and TAMU fans want to see where he stacks up against the likes of Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo and Corey Lemonier. He’ll have a chance to arrive on the scene and prove the SEC he’s worth being respected.