New to Saturday Down South this season is the Bo Jackson Award. Throughout the year we will track the performance of the top players in the SEC, free of bias against age or position. Simply put, we’re looking for the best player in the best conference in college football.
To be clear, this award is in no way affiliated with Bo Jackson himself, the name is a tribute to one of the greatest athletes in American history. If you are not familiar with Bo Jackson, he was the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn, who went on to be a Pro Bowl selection in the NFL as a member of the Oakland/LA Raiders as well as being a MLB All-star Outfielder for the Kansas City Royals. Only Kim Jong-Il and Paul Ryan have athletic resumes that rival Bo Jackson’s.
If Mr. Jackson has a problem with me making him the poster boy for superior athleticism and SEC dominance, just let me know and I’ll change it to the Herschel Walker Award or the Reggie White Award or the Percy Harvin Award, and so on. Probably not the Casey Clausen Award, though.
After only two weeks, here are the early leaders.
Jarvis Jones – LB, Georgia
Jones was dominant against Missouri last weekend. Nine tackles, two sacks, a fourth-quarter interception (which led to a 1-yard TD), a fourth-quarter forced fumble (which led to a 5-yard TD) and two fourth-quarter confirmed kills. His performance earned him SEC defensive player of the week. More importantly, the State of Georgia announced that the images of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis will be removed from the face of Stone Mountain and be replaced by the image of Jarvis Jones stripping Missouri Quarterback James Franklin. Check out the stripping video here.
Tyler Russell – QB, Mississippi State
I didn’t see this one coming. Russell was in complete control against Auburn last weekend. 20/29, 222 yards, three TD’s and zero interceptions. On the year Russell has five TD’s and still, zero interceptions. One time offensive guru Dan Mullen has his offense heading in the right direction and after cupcake games against Troy and South Alabama and (cough) Kentucky; Russell could have huge numbers and a lot of confidence heading into mid-October and the gut of their SEC West schedule.
Todd Gurley – RB, Georgia
My baby’s growing up so fast! Todd Gurley gained national headlines in week 1 after becoming the first 9-year-old in SEC history to return a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Through two games the kid is averaging 9.2 yards a carry and has found the end zone four times. In only two weeks Gurley has managed to not only fill the void, but also erase the memory of Isaiah Crowell.
Brad Wing – P, LSU
Nobody in the SEC is better at their position than Brad Wing. The problem is that being the best punter at LSU this season is like being the best surfer in Nebraska. He’s averaging 54.3 yards per punt, but he’s only had to do it three times in two games. His presence on this list is more ceremonial than anything, a nod to his amazing 2011 season. However, Wing’s first punt of the year was described like this by ESPN, “Brad Wing punt 62 yards, out of bounds at the Wash 4.” That sounds about right. I know he’s down there in the shadows, spitting game at Mo Isom, waiting for the opportunity to drop a punt inside the 2-yard line in a huge game. Need more evidence? Check out his nasty fake punt against Florida last year.
Johnathan Banks – CB, Mississippi State
Lost in the Jarvis Jones domination was the defensive performance Jonathan Banks laid on Auburn’s poor Kiehl Frazier. Bullying, really. Banks was named the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week after recording two picks against the Tigers. This is nothing new for Banks, who is tied for first among active players with 14 interceptions over his career. Banks is the new Morris Claiborne/Joe Haden/Patrick Peterson/Dre Kirkpatrick etc. Check out Banks’ sick interception.
Players to Watch in Coming Weeks
Tyler Bray – QB, Tennessee, Bo Wallace – QB, Mississippi, Mike Gillislee – RB, Florida, Marcus Lattimore – RB, South Carolina, Justin Hunter – WR, Tennessee, Aaron Murray – QB, Georgia, Matt Elam – S, Florida, Basically everyone – Alabama