The Replacements: Who will replace the SEC East’s 10 biggest names in 2014?

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The SEC has to replace some big-time talent and star power during the offseason before the 2014 season starts. But there are talented underclassmen to pick up the slack.

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 East’s 10 biggest names in 2014:

Related: Every SEC East team’s offseason checklist

1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Replacement(s): Darius English (SO), Dante Sawyer (FR)
Buzz: South Carolina’s coaching staff would love to see rising sophomore Darius English explode into the Gamecocks’ next big-time pass rusher. English made 19 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and .5 sacks in 2013. Incoming freshman Dante Sawyer should also help replace Clowney. The Georgia native is 6-3, 265 pounds and ready to make an immediate impact.

Related: 5 SEC-ready JUCO transfers

2. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia

Replacement: Hutson Mason (SR)
Buzz: Mason gained valuable experience replacing Aaron Murray after his season-ending knee injury, and he threw for 808 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions in three meaningful games. Mason has all the physical tools to be a good quarterback, but he showed in the bowl game it won’t be as easy as plugging him in. Still, Mason has a lot of weapons returning in 2014.

3. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

Replacement: Jordan Cunningham (SO)
Buzz: Vanderbilt’s next great receiver could come from Florida native and rising sophomore Jordan Cunningham. Yes, replacing Matthews completely isn’t a reality, but Cunningham caught 15 passes for 123 yards and one TD as a true freshman. Watch out for Cunningham to be a featured weapon in the Commodores’ offense in 2014.

4. Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina

Replacement: Dylan Thompson (SR)
Buzz: Steve Spurrier feels great about Dylan Thompson as his starter for 2014, and he’s gotten great experience over the last two seasons. Thompson has thrown for 1,810 yards, 14 TDs and five INTs over the last two years, but getting freshman Connor Mitch ready to compete will also be important this spring. However, Thompson will assume the reins of the offense.

Related: 10 SEC-ready freshmen for 2014

5. Michael Sam, DE, Missouri

Replacement: Markus Golden (SR)
Buzz: Michael Sam’s replacement is already a proven commodity, and replacing both Sam and Kony Ealy will be important for Mizzou’s success. Markus Golden will step into a full-time role as a rush end and linebacker, and he made 6.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss…as a role player. Shane Ray will help replace Kony Ealy.

6. Henry Josey, RB, Missouri

Replacement(s): Russell Hansbrough (JR), Marcus Murphy (SR)
Buzz: Henry Josey was the lifeblood of Mizzou’s explosive running game, and he exits as one of the country’s best stories in 2013. Now, Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy will get many more touches in 2014. Hansbrough rushed for 685 yards and four TDs, while Murphy rushed for 601 yards and nine TDs. Replacing Josey’s 1,166 yards and 16 TDs will be a team effort, but either player could have a major breakout season.

7. EJ Gaines, CB, Missouri

Replacement(s): Aarion Penton (SO), John Gibson (SO)
Buzz: If replacing EJ Gaines isn’t enough, the Tigers will have to replace fellow corner Randy Ponder and safety Matt White. Gaines, however, is easily the secondary’s toughest replacement. The two replacement corners should be Aarion Penton and John Gibson. Penton played in 14 games, making 16 tackles and one INT, while Gibson played in 12 games, making 14 tackles and one INT last season.

8. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida

Replacement(s): Jalen Tabor (FR), Brian Poole (JR)
Buzz: Florida loses three defensive backs in Loucheiz Purifoy (NFL), Marcus Roberson (NFL) and Cody Riggs (transfer). However, Purifoy is the biggest name of the three. Early enrollee Jalen Tabor could start game one, and he’s a longer corner at 6-1 that Will Muschamp loves. Nickelback Brian Poole will also compete for the corner opposite Vernon Hargreaves.

9. Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee

Replacement(s): Marlin Lane (SR), Jalen Hurd (FR)
Buzz: Rajion Neal quietly had a great season for Tennessee, rushing for 1,124 yards and 12 TDs; however, like Neal, the entire offensive line must be replaced, too. Marlin Lane has shown flashes for Tennessee, but he hasn’t put it all together yet. Lane has rushed for 1,472 yards and eight TDs in three seasons, but watch out for early enrollee Jalen Hurd, who could be a monster. Hurd is 6-3, 230 pounds, and he’ll compete for the starting job day one.

10. Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina

Replacement(s): Gerald Dixon (JR), Kelsey Griffin (SO), Abu Lamin (JR)
Buzz: Kelcy Quarles developed into a monster in 2013, making 13.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Look for rising junior Gerald Dixon take his game to the next level. Dixon made 2.5 tackles for loss and .5 sacks last year. Kelsey Griffin is another player who Lorenzo Ward and Steve Spurrier are counting on. The rising sophomore made just 12 tackles and .5 tackles for loss as a freshman. JUCO transfer Abu Lamin will also get his opportunity to impress the staff this spring.

Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • that’s right singleton is a safety not a corner. but he’s going to be a big time player in our secondary

  • Mizzou is just gonna reload and reestablish in the East. Again! Mizzou Damn Rah!

  • I will tell you honestly even adding replacing Franklin at QB I think SC has a harder road to hoe. Conner Shaw was an absolute stud.

  • The Gators will be fine on defense. I can’t wait until we see who the quarterback will be. Kurt Roper’s new spread system may see Jeff Driskell grabbing some pine in favor of faster QB’s coming in. By the way, it is cool to see all the Mizzou fans commenting. You guys (along with Texas A&M) have made our conference even better.

  • secondary should be better in coverage and one would think that improves interceptions but might just make opposing qbs hold the ball.

    line backers, big question mark, Wilson was a big anchorman but they have some good athletes. I wonder if Trent Hosick-State-wrestling-heavy-weight-champ should be linebacker. He reads the game very smartly.

    D-line will be just as good as last year

    O-line should be about the same early and much better late in 2014

    Running backs will be better if Henson makes a playbook for a pounder like Brantley or Stewart.

    QB will be better because Mauk will take more risks, also turn the ball over about 10% more but in a spread attack you have to threaten all parts of the field and sometimes the defense is going to guess right.

    Receivers will be shorter, but there is a chance they could catch better, shorter players can change direction faster, so let’s see if we have a receivers coach this year. I think we have to improve a lot over last years routes, timing, individual creativity. The number of times we had to just eat the ball, no throw, no escape route was unacceptable.

  • It doesn’t look good for MIZZOU or USC.

  • So you don’t mention McCarron, the only QB to win 1 BCS Championship, much less 2. And you don’t mention Mosley. To me, this is a worthless article where you’ve wasted your time writing it and certainly my time reading it. Must be a slow info day.

    • SEC East…. You reinforce the bammer stereotype. I apologize to the few smart bama fans out there. This is why we hate you. (Comment also applies to his next post)

    • Well Paul, you either completely missed the title of the article, or you just can’t flat out read. Which is it genius? It seems pretty clear, based on the story title and also the statement in the article, that this list is comprised of players from the SEC East. If you think you can do better, how about you start your own website and put your own list out.

    • That makes just as much sense as putting Mizzou in the Eastern conference, do yourself a favor an just punch yourself in the face with brass knuckles.

    • For future reference, briefly examining those fancy words at the top of the page (collectively referred to as the “title”) is a great way to begin reading an article.

  • An SEC “Expert”, Ex means “has been”, and a pert is a small drop of water. In the future when I see your name as the author of an article I’ll know just to skip on to the next one.