The SEC certainly has to replace some sick talent during the offseason before heading into 2013. Players like Jarvis Jones, Damontre Moore, Tyler Wilson and Eddie Lacy will be noticeably absent, but there are talented underclassmen to pick up the slack who are either known or will announce their presence come September.
Some replacements are already known, but most are not and position vacancies will be decided with position battles during spring practice and fall camp.
Here’s an early look at who will replace the SEC’s 10 biggest names in 2013:
1. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Replacement: Jordan Jenkins
Buzz: Outside of Athens, you may have not heard of Jordan Jenkins. But he was just a true freshman in ‘12 who earned significant playing time because he’s so talented. He played in all 14 games totaling 31 tackles, eight tackles for loss and five sacks. He finished third on the team in tackles for loss and second in sacks. He’s going to be a hawse, and although it’s not likely, he could make Georgia forget all about Jarvis Jones in ‘13.
2. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Replacement: Jake Matthews
Buzz: Jake Matthews will slide over from right tackle to left and protect Johnny Manziel’s blind side. The Aggies could have back-to-back Outland Trophy winners and first offensive linemen picked in the draft if Matthews continues his dominant play. Replacing Matthews will be OG Cedric Ogbuehi, and Ogbuehi moving to right tackle is a bigger deal than Matthews moving to left tackle.
3. Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Replacements: Julien Obioha, Tyrone Taylor and Brandon Alexander
Buzz: Replacing Damontre Moore will be no easy task, as he will be a top-five pick in the draft. But Julien Obioha, Tyrone Taylor and Brandon Alexander are the likeliest candidates to replace him at weak side defensive end. Obioha and Taylor both tallied 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack in ‘12.
4. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Replacement: TJ Yeldon
Buzz: We know TJ Yeldon will replace Eddie Lacy just fine, but who will emerge as the other part of the one-two punch that Bama is notoriously known for? Fellow freshman Kenyon Drake could, as well as freshman Blake Sims and incoming freshmen Derrick Henry and Altee Tenpenny. Don’t forget about Dee Hart and Jalston Fowler who were injured in ‘12 either. All six of these players will get their opportunity to become Bama’s #2 back toting the rock. Do you think the cupboard is stacked at Alabama?
5. Kevin Minter, MLB, LSU
Replacements: Kwon Alexander, Deion Jones, Ronnie Feist and Lamin Barrow
Buzz: Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo get all the ink, but Kevin Minter was the Tigers’ best player on defense. And replacing Minter will be very tough. Freshmen Kwon Alexander and Deion Jones are the two logical replacements. Jones tallied 23 tackles and three tackles for loss, while Alexander nabbed 12 tackles. But LSU may just move Lamin Barrow to MLB and find other outside linebackers. There are big decisions ahead for Les Miles and John Chavis on defense.
6. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Replacement: John Fulton and Geno Smith
Buzz: Milliner will be the most missed player on the Alabama roster, because he was a lockdown corner who could play on an island. Both John Fulton and Geno Smith will look to replace Milliner next season. Fulton played in 12 games, making 15 tackles, and Smith played in 13 games, making nine tackles.
7. Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
Replacement: Ryan Kelly
Buzz: Replacing Barrett Jones won’t happen overnight, because of his versatility and athleticism at center. There was a question as to whether Jones would play in the championship game because of his foot injury, and freshman Ryan Kelly was ready to play. Kelly has the confidence of the players to be Jones’ logical replacement this offseason.
8. Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida
Replacements: Matt Jones, Mack Brown and Kelvin Taylor
Buzz: Mike Gillislee played a huge part in helping the Gators get to 11 wins in ‘12. And replacing him will be a challenge for the Gators. Freshman Matt Jones, junior Mack Brown and early enrollee Kelvin Taylor will try and do just that. Jones tallied 52 carries for 275 yards and three touchdowns this season, and Brown nabbed 25 carries for just 102 yards. However, incoming freshman Kelvin Taylor will be better than all three, and he’ll see some action in his first season. Look for Jones to emerge as the top tailback in 2013.
9. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Replacement: Brandon Allen
Buzz: Tyler Wilson owns several passing records at Arkansas in just two short seasons. However, during Wilson’s absence because of injury this season, Brandon Allen received some valuable playing time and experience. He completed 21 of 49 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown. Allen didn’t look comfortable or ready, but an offseason in Bret Bielema’s system should bode well.
10. Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Replacements: Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco
Buzz: Not only do the Tigers have to replace Sam Montgomery, but they also have to replace Barkevious Mingo. Two guys who should emerge as the two starting defensive ends for the Tigers are Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco. Hunter played in 12 games, making 12 tackles, and Rasco played in 13 games, making 10 tackles and two tackles for loss.
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