10 players who shocked the SEC in 2013

serderius-bryant

Shock and awe.

I could have titled this article the SEC’s biggest surprises in 2013, but truly, some of these players shocked the Southeast with their incredible play this year. And 2013 was the year of surprises and shock, with Auburn and Missouri’s rise from bowless in 2012 to the SEC Championship in 2013.

Related: SEC’s top 100 uncommitted prospects to keep an eye on

Here are 10 players who shocked us in 2013:

Serderius Bryant, LB, Ole Miss: Bryant epitomizes the Rebels’ defense. They’re slightly undersized at nearly every position, and Bryant blew onto the scene when nobody saw it coming. He recorded a team-high 70 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks, along with two forced fumbles. Bryant is undersized, but he plays like a boss looking for contact with reckless abandon. When Denzel Nkemdiche went down with a knee injury and missed time, Bryant made sure the defense didn’t take a step back.

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Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina: Maybe folks in Columbia saw this one coming, but I’m not sure they even knew what an impact player he’d become. For the better part of the season, Davis was the best running back in the SEC. He ran for 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging over 103 yards per game rushing. Replacing Marcus Lattimore didn’t prove to be too tough after all, because Davis made it look easy. He’s the Gamecocks’ workhorse who gave the offense an identity of toughness and swagger.

Markus Golden, OLB/DE, Missouri: Who? Exactly. Many folks outside of Columbia, Missouri, still don’t know Golden’s name, and he didn’t even start in 2013. Golden is a reserve outside linebacker/defensive end, and he recorded 11 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in SEC play. The good news for Mizzou fans and bad news for everyone else is that Golden is just a junior.

Related: Missouri earned SEC respect in 2013

Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida: It’s not everyday you see a true freshman explode onto the scene and become the SEC’s best cover corner. I know EJ Gaines is a fantastic player at Mizzou, but Hargreaves could be the best cover corner in college football…as a freshman! Fellow Gators Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson are considered potential first- or second-round picks, and Hargreaves is already better than both. He recorded 38 tackles, 11 pass breakups and a team-high three INTs.

Henry Josey, RB, Missouri: Josey continues defying the odds. Just coming back from a devastating knee injury like he suffered in 2011, missing the 2012 season and becoming one of the best rushers in the SEC is raising many eyebrows. He finished with 62 carries for 1,074 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. We expected Josey to get some carries, but it was more of a wait-and-see scenario with him and how his knee would react. I’d say he’s healthy!

Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn: Marshall’s story of how he ended up at Auburn is a fascinating one, especially since he was a defensive back at Georgia before heading to JUCO. The one question we all had about Marshall was his 20 INTs in JUCO in 2012, but he really cut down on the INTs this year. He combined for 2,782 yards and 23 touchdowns so far, and he’s one of the most explosive athletic freaks in the SEC. After the Washington State opener, Marshall looked like a liability on offense, but his transformation and development has been fun to watch. Safe to say he surprised opposing defenses and probably his own coaches this year in leading his team to an SEC Championship and national title berth.

Related: 5 reasons Auburn beats FSU

Tre Mason, RB, Auburn: Coming off a 3-9 campaign that saw Tre Mason rush for 1,000 yards, did we expect him to blow up for 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns? We expected a strong showing from Mason as the anchor of the running game, but several thought Cameron Artis-Payne would assume the most carries. But Mason blew up in 2013 and became the SEC’s offensive player of the year, going for 304 yards and four touchdowns in the SEC Championship Game, both records.

Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina: Everyone thought Jadeveon Clowney would be the impact defensive lineman for Carolina, but Kelcy Quarles made sure everyone knew his name. In fact, Quarles blew up with 13.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks, leading the team in both categories. Quarles has thrust his name into the first- to second-round talk for the NFL Draft, and his upside is tremendous. He shocked everyone with just how athletic and powerful he really is.

Michael Sam, DE, Missouri: Nobody saw Michael Sam becoming the SEC’s best defensive lineman in 2013. He’s undersized, and he was just a two-star nobody out of high school from Texas. But Gary Pinkel has a knack for signing nobodies and turning them into NFL players. Sam led the SEC in sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (18), and he had the year everyone thought Clowney would have.

Ramik Wilson, LB, UGA: Wilson led the SEC in tackles with 128…and it wasn’t even close. The next highest player was teammate Amarlo Herrera, who finished with 107. Wilson racked up 85 of his 128 in SEC play, averaging 10.63 per game. No, Georgia’s defense wasn’t elite or even adequate at times, but Wilson’s play surprised everyone.

Photo Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • The only thing shocking about this list, is the fact that Landon Collins isn’t on here

    • Of course the list must not be real without a BAMA player…How could he not include a BAMA player? You Bama fans…

      • Yeah… Well I guess when your defense is on the field the whole game, you have more opportunities

        • Ooo cheap shot. I take such offense to your remarks. I actually thought Vinnie Sunseri was more impactful with two pick 6s than Collins. Probably doesn’t have the potential or talent, but Sunseri made bigger plays than Collins.

        • Vinne was making those dame plays last year, so it wasn’t much of a “shock” that he did it again.

        • Sunseri was a ST player last year mostly. It wasn’t shocking for him to take back a pick six that won the TAMU game? Right.

        • Won the game at beginning of the 3rd quarter? Typical gator. Obnoxious and ignorant

        • Seriously? You’re right – it wasn’t the biggest play in the game. Typical Alabama fan, so damn sensitive. Nice Iron Bowl though.

        • Wait…. What bowl game are you guys in again? Oh yeah, that’s right. Nice Georgia southern loss too. I mean isn’t that the second time ever that an fcs school beat an fbs? Everyone in the building knew they were gonna run it and you still couldn’t stop it. 0 passing yards bud.

    • I know right Bama tough guy?? I mean this list should have at least 12 Bama players on it….

    • Well, guys, you are ALL wrong. There aren’t any Bama players on this list because it is NEVER shocking for a Bama player to do well. They are all born to be great, just like the warriors of Sparta. In fact, if a Bama player doesn’t live up to his hype, Saban picks him up and throws him off a mountain.

  • Just because you have 5 stars beside your name like Hargreaves doesn’t mean you’ll dominate. He did. He’s going to be a star.

  • Great list, all these players truly deserve to be on it. Had I made the list I probably would’ve included Dak Prescott, I mean no one expected him to be a factor for Mississippi State this year and even when we found out he was going to be our starter not everyone was exactly enthused. Then he came in and dominated in a few games and really won a couple games for us. He didn’t exactly have stellar numbers due to the fact that he was sharing reps with Russel, but he still did pretty good. Again, great list thinking Dak should’ve been included is just my opinion.

  • Michael Sam was impressive as a freshman but then he leveled off. you expect freshman to improve each year. finally he played up to potential this year. as far as Henry Josey goes, I’m shocked that you’re shocked.

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