SDS talent evaluators Jon Cooper and Brad Crawford spent several months breaking down last year’s highlights, incoming talent and projected 2014 impact following spring practice to compile a list of the SEC’s Top 100 players heading into fall. Athletes were selected by position then ranked overall counting down to No. 1.
Stick with SDS throughout summer and get in on the action using the hashtag #SDSTop100 as we unveil a new player daily leading up to opening night on Aug. 28.
64. Michael Bennett, Sr., WR, Georgia
Upon his return from a devastating knee injury that prematurely ended his sophomore season in 2012, Bennett finished second on the team with 41 catches as one of Aaron Murray’s most reliable targets down the seam and was selected an all-SEC fourth-teamer by football mag guru Phil Steele. He couldn’t avoid the injury bug however, missing two games in October after tearing his meniscus at Tennessee during Week 6.
While Bennett doesn’t have the breakaway speed of rehabilitated teammates Justin Scott-Wesley and Malcolm Mitchell, his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame causes fits for defensive backs trying to shed blocks. Primarily lined up at split end for the Bulldogs, Bennett’s often asked to lead block on wide running plays to Heisman candidate Todd Gurley. As the X in passing situations, Bennett has room to operate on an island near the sideline and doesn’t worry with navigating through defenders across the middle.
Whether or not the veteran receiver can stay healthy is a viable question, one needing to be answered on an offense led by first-year starting quarterback Hutson Mason under coordinator Mike Bobo’s direction. Bennett’s production will drop a bit considering the other weapons Georgia welcomes back from injury.
2013 statistics: 41 catches, 538 yards, 4 TD
2014 projection: 37 catches, 509 yards, 4 TD
Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports