Injuries really shaped how the SEC East was won last season. Two teams – Florida and Georgia – were just hammered by injuries, with Missouri and South Carolina staying relatively healthy throughout the season.
Here’s a look at the SEC East’s five most important players returning from season-ending injuries for 2014:
Andre Debose, WR, Florida (SR): Florida’s still looking for a receiver who can stretch the field, and Andre Debose is looking for a big finale in Gainesville. Debose’s impact has been harnessed to primarily special teams, and he’s caught just 29 passes for 543 yards and four touchdowns in three seasons. Debose is returning from a torn ACL suffered during last year’s fall camp.
Jeff Driskel, QB, Florida (JR): Florida’s signal caller returns from a broken leg suffered against Tennessee last season, and he’ll finally have an offense best suited for his talents. Driskel’s thrown for 2,271 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 INTs, and with so many other teams replacing starting quarterbacks, Driskel becomes one of the veterans. Florida’s offense will go as Driskel goes, and Will Muschamp raved about the offense throughout spring practice.
Curt Maggitt, DE/OLB, Tennessee (JR): Tennessee’s defense noticeably missed athletes last season, and Curt Maggitt is an athlete who will give them a boost in 2014. He’s made 86 tackles in two years, primarily most of them coming his freshman season with 56. Tennessee may want Maggitt to be their full-time defensive end, but he can also be a weapon at outside linebacker. He’s versatile, and he’s ready to blow into the player we all thought exiting high school.
Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia (JR): UGA will have an abundance of backfield talent ranging from Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall to two five-star freshmen Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Assuming Marshall is fully recovered from his knee injury, he’s a special, special player. He’s a different type of back than Gurley and a nice changeup who excels at attacking the edge of defenses. Marshall has rushed for 1,005 yards and 11 touchdowns in one and a half seasons.
Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia (JR): Can Malcolm Mitchell stay healthy an entire season? He’s such a weapon, and we’ve just barely seen his arsenal. Between splitting time at corner and being injured, Mitchell could be saving his best for 2014. He’s caught 85 passes for 1,237 yards and eight touchdowns, but there’s much more in the tank.
Photo Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports