Now or never: 6 SEC East seniors who must step up in 2014

NCAA Football: Missouri at Georgia

Bon Jovi probably sings it better than I can even say it: it’s now or never.

That’s the way six SEC East seniors are feeling entering 2014. This is their time and their year. They’ve paid their dues and worked their asses off during the offseason and in season, and it’s time for some payday.

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It’s now or never for these six SEC East seniors:

Javess Blue, WR, Kentucky: The Cats’ top receiver Blue looks for a big senior season. Playing in an offense that wants to toss it around 40-plus times per game, Blue could put up much bigger numbers this season. He caught 43 passes for 586 yards and four touchdowns last year. No matter who the next quarterback may be, he’ll have to have receivers to throw to. Blue returns the best numbers, but he’ll need help. The reality of rebuilding the program is setting in, and Blue is looking to become one of the league’s more underrated players.

Andre Debose, WR/KR, Florida: The Gators’ quest for a wide receiver has been ongoing since 2009. The ‘next Percy Harvin’ hasn’t been in the cards for Andre Debose, who originally signed in Urban Meyer’s spread offense. In the midst of a breakout fall camp, Debose tore his ACL and received another year of eligibility by the NCAA for 2014, and he’s finally getting another shot in another spread-‘em-out offense, Kurt Roper’s attack. Debose has snatched just 29 catches for 543 yards and four touchdowns in three seasons, but he’s been dynamic in the return game, totaling 58 for 1,592 yards and a school-record four touchdowns. Will this be Debose’s breakout year? I feel like we’ve been asking this for 10 years now.

Ray Drew, DE, Georgia: Drew gave everyone what they were looking for last year: flashes that he would become the player we all thought upon signing with the Bulldogs. Drew finally started to break out of his shell with 43 tackles, eight tackles for loss and six sacks, along with his 12 QB hurries. Always an awesome quote, Drew will be a big leader in Jeremy Pruitt’s new defense, and Pruitt will be counting on Drew to help put pressure on quarterbacks and live in backfields.

Markus Golden, DE, Missouri: It’s Golden’s time. Backing up Michael Sam and Kony Ealy, Golden didn’t get his due credit. But you’ll know his name this season. He racked up 55 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and eight QB hurries as a backup. The Tigers will lean on Golden to provide leadership and put up serious numbers.

Dylan Thompson, QB, South Carolina: Steve Spurrier called Dylan Thompson the best player on his team this spring. Thompson isn’t new to competition, as he’s been battletested the last two seasons, throwing for 1,810 yards and 14 touchdowns, posting a career-high 10 in 2012. Backed by a nasty offensive line and one of the top backfields, Thompson steps into a productive offense filling Connor Shaw’s shoes.

Justin Worley, QB, Tennessee: Maybe the biggest now-or-never player on the list, Justin Worley should be Tennessee’s starting quarterback. With Riley Ferguson now gone, only Josh Dobbs stands in his way in the competition. Vols’ fans are hoping Worley has saved his best for last. The former Gatorade National Player of the Year hasn’t lived up to the billing yet. He’s thrown for 1,977 yards and 21 touchdowns, compared to 12 INTs. Tennessee’s team has several holes, but Worley hopes to make quarterback not one of them.

Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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  • Mizzou Senior WR trio of Darius White, Bud Sassar and Jimmie Hunt could each be on the list with the departure of DGB, collectively they will put up big numbers with Mauk flinging it around.

    • Nah, Hutson will do just fine with his offensive weapons at WR and RB. All he needs to do is get in a rhythm. He doesn’t need to step up like Murray did. Our defense, however, needs to step up, and Ray Drew will be a big part of that.