One of the reasons the SEC media struggles so mightily when predicting the order of finish is due to unforeseen circumstances like injuries.

Even Alabama, which arguably fields the most talented roster in all of college football, would suffer an appreciable setback if two potential first-round NFL draft picks endured season-ending injuries.

That’s exactly what happened to Ole Miss at the end of last season.

Several huge contributors missed significant time in 2014 due to major injuries. It won’t be long before we’ll get to see them playing again, as we’re seven Saturdays away from a full slate of SEC football.

We’ll detail some of the potential comeback stories shortly. But first, here are our previous countdown stories as we await the season:


Alabama RB Kenyan Drake — A nasty leg injury reduced Drake to a sympathetic figure, wheeling around the sideline with his leg in a cast and a box of Oatmeal Creme Pies in the basket of his scooter. That image shouldn’t last long this fall, as coordinator Lane Kiffin is counting on Drake to impersonate Reggie Bush in a depleted Tide backfield.

Auburn DE Carl Lawson — A freshman All-American in 2013, Lawson’s recovery from a torn ACL took longer than expected, causing him to miss all of last season. Voted preseason first-team All-SEC by the media this week, Lawson now will play the “Buck” position in new coordinator Will Muschamp’s defense, potentially ranking among the conference leaders in sacks.

Florida TE Jake McGee — Speaking of Muschamp, a myriad of reasons contributed to the Gators’ offensive struggles during his era. So many, in fact, that the loss of McGee for the 2014 season got obscured. A good pass-catching tight end is a godsend for a young quarterback, and McGee caught 43 passes in his last full season. Expect him to be a strong No. 2 option in the team’s passing game this fall.

Auburn LG Alex Kozan — Already an All-SEC selection as a freshman in 2013, Kozan appears capable of playing at that level once again after surgery on a herniated disc in his back forced him to miss last season. He’ll be a crucial part of a Tigers offensive line looking to provide time and space for a cadre of new skill players.

Ole Miss LT Laremy Tunsil — Assuming he escapes the NCAA investigation into his potential conversation(s) with an NFL agent relatively unscathed, Tunsil should enter the 2015 season as an All-American candidate. The Rebels offensive line performed poorly last season, and though the group is more experienced and healthier now, it’s imperative that Tunsil protects the quarterback, whether that’s Ryan Buchanan or Chad Kelly.

Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell — The receiver may have suffered the most brutal, dramatic injury we saw last year in college football. It’s no coincidence that Ole Miss slipped from 7-1 to 9-5 nearly the instant that Treadwell fumbled at the goal line on a leg-snapping sandwich tackle. It sounds like Treadwell will be healthy enough to battle Auburn’s Duke Williams and others for All-SEC status at receiver as well as first-round NFL draft consideration.

Ole Miss LB Denzel Nkemdiche — The Rebels got slammed with injuries at the end of the 2014 season. Nkemdiche isn’t a superstar like his brother, the defensive tackle. But he’s one of the best coverage linebackers in the conference, an additional asset to the outstanding Ole Miss pass defense. If a team doesn’t want to test the team’s surplus of good defensive backs, Nkemdiche could get some good opportunities at multiple interceptions in ’15.