Now or never: 5 SEC West seniors who have to step up in 2014

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Mississippi

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.

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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.

Photo Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

COMMENTS

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  • Just not a Bo Wallace believer….and until he proves me wrong I won’t believe it. Agree on Wallace and the other four. They are crucial to their teams’ success this yr. Trey DePriest is interesting too because he bears the burden of the defensive leadership

    • Of course your not a believer. No one seems to be. People judge how good nick Marshall is by how good auburn is and they do the exact same thing to Bo. Bo is easily the best qb in the sec by experience and how much he’s improved. I’m not disagreeing with the fact that Bo must step up for us tho, because there will be no doubt he’s a huge key to our offense. But come on people realize that it’s how good the player is individually not how good his team is.

      • I think people over emphasize “experience” when it comes to QBs. You have thrown the football more than just a few times once you hit a Division I football campus. It is a much greater need to have experienced Offensive and Defensive lineman. Much of that is based not primarily on knowledge, but physical maturity.

    • VolsJake, you sound just like most other fans. If you would have watched Bo Wallace the past two yrs, you would know that he is pretty damn good. Yes, he has made some bone headed plays and thrown a lot of ints. But last year he had only thrown like 4 or 5 ints up until the last two games. But he wasn’t anywhere near 100%. His completion percentage of 64%. That’s pretty damn good. But now in his final year he will be healthy and he will be able to run the offense with his eyes closed. So with all the talented weapons he has this season, he should have a huge season. There isn’t a better passer in the SEC than Wallace.

      • Good, he will be healthy and people will no longer have excuses for him. If if if. IF my aunt had nuts, she’d be my uncle. It takes far more than just being a good passer to be a good quarterback. Who cares if you thread the needle two or three times and then make a “bone headed play”? Being a good quarterback is about the entire makeup of the guy in the helmet and it start with the aspects that are contained in that said helmet….and no, I’m not talking about his Vidal Sassoon hair. Wallace isn’t even the top quarterback in the West.

        • Well statistically speaking he is the best quarterback in the West. NOT saying he’s a Heisman finalist or anything and at times he makes bad mistakes, but numbers don’t lie. He had two bad games last year against Mizzou and state and his first 10 games are forgotten about. I think LSU fans have a great understanding of just how good Bo can be when he’s on his game.

      • Bo Wallace the most unintelligent QB we’ve ever had. He single-handedly has forced Freeze to slim down our no-huddle playbook wristbands to 10 plays per game. I don’t care if his shoulder was hurt last season. He’s an idiot, and his football career will end this year.

        • Please elaborate on your claims. Where do you see anything that tells you this? Are you one of these guys that has “inside sources very close to the team” that tells you all the information that nobody else seems to have? Do you really think he would be starting if he was that dumb? Hopefully once he breaks all of Eli’s records this year people will finally give him his due. Until then, take that crap somewhere else.

  • I think DJ Welter, Terrance Magee, or Jermauria Rasco would have all been better selections than La’El Collins. OL is a strength of this team and Collins doesn’t have much stepping to do. Welter could lose his LB spot. Magee is now the lead back and needs to mentor/ease in Fournette and there aren’t many options at DE after Rasco.

  • Can Bo Wallace get Ole Miss to Atlanta in December (Not August)? Most agree, he cannot get it done. 8 and 4 at best

  • I think CAP is fully capable of stepping up and taking over as the leader in the backfield. As far as Wallace is concerned… I think he’s a very good QB who just tries to do too much at times…but that’s what happens sometimes when the odds are against a playmaker that wants to win…other players have to step up and share the burden along with Wallace or they will never make