SEC Media Days kicks off in less than 48 hours marking the unofficial start to the college football season.

Are you ready?

The 2015 opener’s almost here, eight weeks from now, and to celebrate the occasion, we’re counting down to kickoff using content-specific pieces every weekend to deliver the good stuff — last-minute primer involving all 14 SEC teams.

Up next: Introducing the league’s hidden-value players, athletes who impact outcomes of games in more ways than one:

Eight hidden-value players in the SEC

Isaiah McKenzie, Soph., Georgia, ATH — This second-year player is poised to emerge as one of the nation’s top special teams threat this season on a new-look offense under Brian Schottenheimer who is sure to use his talents to the Bulldogs’ advantage. From South Florida, McKenzie’s the latest pint-sized lightning bug to come out of Devin Hester’s backyard that will leave would-be tacklers grasping at air when he has the football.

Robert Nkemdiche, Jr., Ole Miss, DL — His numbers may not show it, but this two-time all-conference tackle is the player Dave Wommack builds his defense around in Oxford. Nkemdiche often commands double-teams and makes it a serious challenge to run inside against the Rebels. He’s athletic enough to use in other areas and even short-yardage situations offensively, but Nkemdiche’s strength is in a three-point stance ready to burst off the snap.

Otaro Alaka, Soph., Texas A&M, LB — If the Aggies defense is going to improve at the linebacker spot this fall under new coordinator John Chavis, Alaka has to play well. As a freshman, Alaka earned a starting job down the stretch after flexing a primary strength in run support. He’s had more reps than most within the front seven on an inexperienced defense and should be one of Texas A&M’s standout performers this fall.

Brooks Ellis, Jr., Arkansas, LB — Ellis leads a relatively untested core of Razorbacks linebackers who are forced to attack the line of scrimmage without All-SEC threat and top tackler Martrell Spaight this season. An above-average tackler with few flaws in his game, Ellis welcomes his new role as a stat-stuffer who will likely play more snaps than anyone on Robb Smith’s defense. this fall. The junior picked off two passes in 11 games last season in the shadow of Spaight and pass rusher Trey Flowers.

Fred Ross, Jr., Mississippi State, WR — The Bulldogs’ other receiver behind headline grabber De’Runnya ‘Bear’ Wilson, Ross has only one career start but will be leaned on as Dak Prescott’s viable No. 2 this season following the exit of equally impressive targets Jameon Lewis and Malcolm Johnson. Skilled in the slot, Ross is also a tough cover in the slot and could challenge for the team lead in receptions and yards this fall if defenses shift their focus to Wilson.

Brandon Shell, Sr., South Carolina, OL — This fifth-year senior is the Gamecocks’ only preseason notable outside of Pharoh Cooper and kicker Elliott Fry who has appeared on a watch list this month, one of 16 SEC players in the conversation to win the Outland Trophy. Shell’s started 35 straight games up front, by far the most on the team, and becomes one of the leaders on an offense replacing All-American A.J. Cann, Mike Davis, Dylan Thompson and Corey Robinson. He’ll protect Connor Mitch from an onslaught of some of the nation’s best pass rushers and enters his final campaign as the most reliable starter for Shawn Elliott and the Gamecocks’ offensive line.

Michael Scherer, Jr., Mizzou, LB — As a first-year starter, Scherer accumulated a 114 total stops as Kentrell Brothers’ right-hand man and impressed the Tigers’ defensive staff in coverage. One of the league’s most underrated defensive players overall. Scherer gives Mizzou an edge over most at the linebacker position.

Brian Randolph, Sr., Tennessee, DB — A hard-hitter and even better tackler than noted defensive back Cam Sutton in the same secondary, Randolph’s been nominated to several All-SEC teams this preseason as a fifth-year senior. With 34 career starts, Randolph has what most other safeties don’t in the SEC — experience.