The injury bug usually bites every team over the course of a long season, but South Carolina and Vanderbilt escaped any major injuries in 2012.
However, the other five weren’t so lucky. Here are 11 SEC East players returning from season-ending injuries:
Ronald Powell, DE/OLB: The former No. 1 overall recruit in 2010 missed last season with an ACL injury he suffered in the spring game. Powell hoped to make it back in time for the 2012 season, but he suffered a setback and is still recovering from his injury. Powell recorded 32 tackles, nine tackles for loss and a team-high six sacks in 2011. He, along with Will Muschamp, hopes he can break out and stay healthy as a junior.
Colin Thompson, TE: Thompson was one of the highest-rated tight ends exiting high school, but he redshirted in 2012 due to a foot injury that required surgery. Thompson is a big blocking tight end who should help with Florida’s running game in ‘13.
Michael Bennett, WR: Just a three-star out of high school, Michael Bennett emerged as Georgia’s best receiver in 2012. He has hands like glue and literally caught everything thrown in his vicinity. Bennett went down with an ACL injury in week five against Tennessee. Prior to his injury, Bennett led the Bulldogs with 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns. You could just see the chemistry between he and Aaron Murray, and both are hoping that chemistry returns in ‘13.
Chase Vasser, OLB: Georgia starting linebacker Vasser tore his labrum against Kentucky and was out the remainder of the season. Vasser accumulated 19 tackles and four tackles for loss in five games. His presence will be key for the Bulldogs’ inexperienced defense in 2013.
Josh Clemons, RB: Clemons suffered an ACL injury in 2011, and at that time he looked like the most talented back on the team. But he didn’t play in 2012, as he rehabbed the injury to be ready for 2013. And Kentucky could use Clemons in the worst way. He rushed for 279 yards and two touchdowns before his injury in ‘11.
Max Smith, QB: Smith lit up opposing defenses last season in the first three weeks, throwing for 975 yards and eight touchdowns in just three games. That’s almost the amount of production three quarterbacks produced for the remainder of the season in nine games. Smith didn’t play in the fourth game against Florida because of a shoulder injury, and he returned the next week only to suffer a season-ending ankle injury. Smith could be explosive in the Wildcats’ new air attack offense.
Justin Britt, OT: Missouri was hammered by offensive line injuries in 2012, and starting right tackle Justin Britt went down against Florida tearing his ACL. Britt will be a welcomed site back for Mizzou fans in 2013.
Taylor Chappell, OT: Chappell went down in the preseason with a torn ACL, and he was expected to be in the two-deep last season. Chappell will provide depth in 2013 to a much-needed position.
Henry Josey, RB: Josey was one of the best running backs in the country in 2011, but his nasty knee injury left him sidelined for the entire 2012 season. Josey rushed for 1,168 yards and nine touchdowns before his injury. Josey’s return for 2013, or even his football career, is still in question, but Missouri expects him to make a return in 2013.
Curt Maggitt, LB: Maggitt had an injury plagued sophomore season. He was banged up early with a nagging toe injury, but he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee against Missouri. He finished the season with 30 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles. Maggitt is one of the better young linebackers in the conference, and Tennessee certainly hopes he can return in 2013.
Brian Randolph, FS: Randolph suffered a torn ACL in his right knee against Florida, and he’ll be a big impact player next year for a defense that was the league’s worst in 2012. Randolph racked up 55 tackles as a freshman and entered the Florida game with a team-leading 15 tackles.
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE