4 SEC teams loaded with talent at a particular position
You can never have too much depth in college football, considering how the violent nature of the sports lends itself to frequent injuries and the restricted number of years of eligibility causes roster turnover each year.
But some teams have almost unheard of depth at one position, which can cause as much controversy as it can provide insurance off the bench.
For instance, the Ohio State Buckeyes are currently holding on to three quarterbacks who most would regard among the top 10 players in the entire country at the position. Only one can play at a time and it’s nearly impossible to rotate more than two within a single offense, meaning that while OSU does not need to sweat an injury at the position it will also deal with hundreds of debates as to who should be the starter in 2015.
The SEC is not immune to such dilemmas. Granted, there isn’t a team in the conference as deep at any position as OSU is at quarterback, but the principle of the matter remains the same.
These three SEC teams have relentless depth at one particular position, and that depth will certainly ease the minds of the coaching staff but will also test their management skills as they try and balance that depth and keep the right players on the field each week.
1. Missouri DTs: The title of “SEC’s deepest position group” safely belongs to Missouri’s defensive tackles, which said goodbye to two NFL prospects this offseason yet maintained unmatched depth at the position heading into the 2015 campaign. The top returning star at the position if Harold Brantley, who finished third on the team behind Shane Ray and Markus Golden with 5 sacks in 2014, including a stretch of four straight games with at least one sack. Brantley spent much of the season sharing time with departed talents Matt Hoch and Lucas Vincent, and his numbers are expected to be even better as the No. 1 man at the position in 2015. Joining Brantley in the interior of the defensive line will be 335-pound monster Josh Augusta, a four-star prospect from the 2013 class who’s seen limited time as a collegiate, and five-star 2015 signee Terry Beckner, who, as you can see below, is already bigger than some NFL defensive tackles. Getting all these beasts on the field at once may be difficult, but the Tigers’ rotation along the defensive line should keep all three players fresh throughout the season.
2. Texas A&M WRs: No team in the SEC attempted more passes or threw for more yards in 2014 than Texas A&M, which relied heavily on a deep group of wide receivers to aid a pair of first-year starting quarterbacks. Kyle Allen is back for another year under center in Kevin Sumlin’s offense, as are most of the members of that deep receivers corps. Former junior college transfer and top wideout Josh Reynolds is back after amassing 842 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. The same can be said for former five-star signees Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones. Add 2015 five-star signee Christian Kirk into the mix and you’ve got four wideouts who could start for most other teams in the conference.
3. Alabama RBs: Even after T.J. Yeldon entered the NFL Draft a year early, Altee Tenpenny announced he’s transferring from Alabama and Tyren Jones was suspended indefinitely, the Crimson Tide maintain the deepest group of tailbacks in the SEC and perhaps in the entire nation. Bruising back Derrick Henry will take over as the starter in the backfield, and he’ll share carries with dynamic athlete Kenyan Drake, who’s returning fresh from a season-ending injury early in 2014. The 2015 recruiting class only served to build more depth in the backfield, as Alabama signed five-star talent Damien Harris and four-star runner Desherrius Flowers. Nick Saban’s offenses have always been kind to tailbacks, and even with Lane Kiffin now calling plays that tailback depth will be difficult to ignore.
4. Auburn RBs: As always, the Auburn Tigers are loaded at the tailback position, which should work in perfect harmony with Gus Malzahn’s spread rushing attack. The Tigers actually said goodbye to their top two tailbacks from last season in Cameron Artis-Payne, the SEC’s leading rusher in 2014, and backup Corey Grant. Nevertheless, it’s now time for five-star 2014 signee Roc Thomas and 2015’s top junior college prospect Jovon Robinson to take control of the Auburn rushing attack. And if that tandem doesn’t satisfy you (and how could it not?), the Tigers added another four-star signee this winter in Kerryon Johnson as well just for good measure. Malzahn will be able to find ways to make use of all these talents, but these players may also have to compromise and share touches, which is easier said than done for the offensive genius in charge of play calling.