10 SEC players who deserved better in 2016
Football isn’t always fair. It’s something that we all know, but get reminded of every season, if not every week. While 2016 has been a breakout year for many players, there are others who would just as soon forget this season, if only they could.
Here are 10 SEC players who deserved better in 2016.
1. Leonard Fournette, LSU: This was supposed to be the year that LSU challenged Alabama in the West, and much of the reason was Fournette. After two seasons in which he amassed 2,987 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns, Fournette was a likely Heisman Trophy favorite, and was expected to be the best player in the SEC.
Instead, injuries held Fournette out of three games altogether, and when he has played, he has been limited. Aside from an LSU-record 284-yard outing against Ole Miss, Fournette hasn’t even been the best back on his own team.
2. Myles Garrett, Texas A&M: An all-world defensive lineman with 108 tackles and 22.5 sacks in his first two seasons, Garrett also hoped to help his team challenge Alabama. And while A&M hung in there, Garrett has had a Fournette-like season. He also was dinged up, and missed three games. When he has played, only twice has Garrett eclipsed three tackles in a game. He has 8.5 sacks, but 4.5 came last week against Texas-San Antonio. Without his pass rushing production, A&M has faltered down the stretch.
3. Nick Chubb, Georgia: Much like Fournette, Chubb was expected to be a difference-maker. In UGA’s opener against North Carolina, he was: with 222 yards rushing and a pair of scores. Since, he’s been humdrum, failing to surpass 121 rushing yards in any other game. Meanwhile, in UGA’s two biggest games of the season — Florida and Tennessee — Chubb had 10 carries for 23 yards. Chubb has 900 yards on the season, but his yards per carry has gone from 7.1 in 2014 to 8.1 in 2015 to 4.9 in 2016.
4. Michael Scherer, Missouri: After starring as a sophomore for a defense that won the SEC East in 2014, Scherer was solid in 2015 for an even better defense yoked to a bad offense. In 2016, Scherer was a rare bright spot for Mizzou, until he blew out his ACL in the season’s seventh game against Middle Tennessee. Scherer had 53 tackles in just over half a season, and his last Tiger squad has been lost defensively without him.
5. Skai Moore, South Carolina: The brilliant linebacker had gone from leading South Carolina in tackles as a freshman on an 11-2 squad to starring for a 7-6 team and then a 3-9 team in 2015. New coach Will Muschamp pledged to upgrade the defense, but Moore suffered a neck injury before the season and never played a snap. Carolina has made itself bowl eligible without him, but Moore deserved to be part of this USC rebirth.
6. Eddie Jackson, Alabama: There’s nothing wrong with Alabama’s season. Unfortunately, Jackson, who was somewhat lightly regarded as a recruit and had become one of the best defensive backs in the nation, broke his leg in the Tennessee game. He had returned two punts for scores and an interception as well. As good as Jackson was, it’s a shame he won’t be around for the climactic stages of Bama’s run for another national title.
7. Drew Barker, Kentucky: After a tumultuous offseason in which former starting QB Patrick Towles transferred to Boston College, Barker was supposed to be the pocket passer who led offensive coordinator Eddie Gran’s attack. He had a great first half in the opener against Southern Miss, but soon thereafter, reaggravated a back injury that was ultimately season-ending. Kentucky is headed to its first bowl game since 2010, but it’s been on the strength of mobile QB Stephen Johnson and its ground game, not Barker and the passing attack which were expected to shine.
8. Cam Sutton, Tennessee: Tennessee deserves its own column, honestly. The Vols reached the top 10 of college football after coming back to beat Florida and stunning Georgia on the Dobbsnail Boot play. But somewhere along the line, anybody who had ever thought about Tennessee football, much less played it, sustained a horrific injury or three.
Sutton is an All-SEC defensive back who hurt his leg in the third game of the year against Ohio University. He is back on the field now, but is a shadow of himself, and returned too late to help in losses to Texas A&M, Alabama, or South Carolina.
9) Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee: See above, another chorus. Reeves-Maybin was the gritty leader of Tennessee’s front seven — before he blew out his shoulder in the fourth game of the year. His season is over, and he’s talked about a possible redshirt, which would be good to see, because otherwise, his Tennessee career is finished.
10) Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee: Unlike Sutton or Reeves-Maybin, Dobbs has been in the lineup all year. Unfortunately, because of the bevy of other injuries, his Tennessee career ends without an SEC title, much less an NCAA title. But hey, at least he’s got the Championship of Life to fall back on.