Bon Jovi probably sings it better than I can even say it: it’s now or never.
That’s the way five SEC West seniors are feeling entering 2014. This is their time and their year. They’ve paid their dues and worked their tails off during the offseason and in season, and it’s time for some payday.
It’s now or never for these five SEC West seniors:
Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Auburn: With Tre Mason playing on Sundays, the burden falls on Cameron Artis-Payne, who rushed for 610 yards and six touchdowns last season. CAP, Corey Grant and Mason all shared carries until the second half of the season when Mason blew up. Now, it’s Artis-Payne’s turn. Auburn may be a running-back-by-committee team, but Gus Malzahn hopes Artis-Payne can become the team’s every-down back.
La’El Collins, OT, LSU: Notable skill position players are gone for LSU at quarterback, running back and receiver, but what the Tigers do have is a stable and rather dominant offensive line, led by La’El Collins. Collins opted to skip the draft and return for his senior season, and it should be a great one. LSU will lean on the stable running back corps, and that means Collins and the big uglies will have to work overtime to produce offensive numbers, push around defensive linemen and take over games.
Trey DePriest, LB, Alabama: With decorated linebacker CJ Mosley now in the NFL, Trey DePriest takes over the defensive leadership role. Several notable players are gone, but one constant Nick Saban can count on is DePriest, who racked up 65 tackles last season and should be a preseason All-SEC first-team player. DePriest isn’t a flashy player, nor will he wow you with elite speed. Rather, he’s the voice of reason and a veteran for a rather young defense overall.
Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas: Bret Bielema’s biggest offseason commitment was getting Trey Flowers to return for his senior season. If the defense will improve, the front seven has to take a big step forward, including the pass rush. Flowers made 44 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks last season, along with three forced fumbles. Flowers could become a big-time pro prospect who helps Arkansas’ program take a step forward.
Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss: Ah, yes, Bo Wallace. What an interesting player. Wallace is the SEC’s active leading career passer with 6,340 yards and 40 touchdowns. There’s a chasm behind Wallace for those numbers. But has he proven he can lead a team to a championship? Can he limit turnovers and make great decisions over the course of a full season? That’s why this has to be Wallace’s year to lead the Rebels’ explosive offense to become a darkhorse contender in the western division.
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