SEC’s Breakout Player Of 2011


ESPN released its breakout player for 2011, and it is Tyler Wilson from Arkansas.

Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson will be the SEC’s top breakout player this season, according to the results of our SportsNation poll last week.

More than 8,400 people voted, and Wilson received 34 percent of the vote. Alabama cornerback DeQuan Menzie was second with 21 percent. Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree was third with 18 percent followed by LSU running back Spencer Ware with 15 percent and Florida defensive end/outside linebacker Ronald Powell with 11 percent.

Obviously, there are several other players out there who could easily qualify, and some of you have suggested that I include an “other” category in our next poll. We’ll try to do that the next time if it makes sense.

That said, some of the others who were prominently mentioned as possible candidates as the top breakout player (and all good choices) were Mississippi State receiver Chad Bumphis, Florida tight end Jordan Reed, LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery, Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, Auburn receiver Trovon Reed, Arkansas running back Ronnie Wingo, Jr., and Tennessee defensive end Jacques Smith.

Wilson would be my choice, too, this season, although the other guy I think might have a monster season is Ware. He has everything it takes to be a 1,200-yard plus rusher — great moves, great vision and the ability to turn 5-yard runs into 50-yard touchdowns.

I’m going to go against the grain with my pick. I’m going to go with LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard. Shepard hasn’t done anything his entire career, and he was one of the most hyped recruits coming out of college.

Now, Tyler Wilson will be good because of the talent around him, but it hurts his running game with Knile Davis being injured. I have full confidence in Dennis Johnson, but Knile Davis is on another level.

I think Shepard has the ability – he undoubtedly does – to flip the field in an instant, much like Percy Harvin did for Florida. LSU just has to find a way to get him the football.

Ultimately I feel that Zach Mettenberger will be the starting quarterback for this team for the bulk of the snaps, and I know he has the ability to get Shepard the football. I mean, Russell Shepard only has 791 total yards his freshman and sophomore years. That’s just an amazing stat to me. He should have that in a half of a season.

Who would you tab as the SEC’s breakout player of 2011?



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  • Shepard’s a good pick.

  • I also would have picked Tyler Wilson. After Auburn had shut down Ryan Mallett in 2010 before his concussion, Wilson proved unstoppable for the Auburn defense. It was only Auburn’s ability to outscore Arkansas that preserved the win.

  • Mallett wasn’t shut down, he was hammered by nick fairley after he had gotten rid of the ball on what should have been a roughing the passer call. And it just wasn’t auburn outscoring arkansas, it was some extremely horrible calls by the officials that day (namely the auburn TD that wasn’t, and the broderick green fumble that was returned for a TD when Green’s knee was clearly down before the ball came out, that’s a 14 point swing). I have heard from insiders with Arkansas that the returning players have an astricks next to the auburn game….they are wanting a measure of revenge!

  • It’s gonna be Tyler Wilson, primarily because he comes into the perfect situation that provides a ‘breakout year’. Most dangerous receiver corp in the nation with two Springs in a row practicing with the 1’s due to Mallett’s offseason injury before 2010. The offense isn’t going to miss a beat with the departure of Mallett, and won’t feel the loss of Knile Davis as much as people think (Dennis Johnson was the starter over Davis last year before he was injured). It all comes down to Wilson being able to produce a huge road victory or two, and he will have a couple opportunities to do just that (@ ‘Bama, @LSU, vs. A&M in Dallas).

  • Wow, nothing but love for the potential breakout players in the West only? There are several in the East who could sway the balance of power back to some sort of equilibrium – (which might even lead to a winning record versus the West, for the East this season) – that some seem to be overlooking. There is Kwame Geathers at Georgia, Sharrif Floyd at Florida and D.J. Swearinger at South Carolina just to name a few. The West does not hold the patent on young talent with potential in the SEC.