SEC

5 SEC players who would like to re-do 2015 season

It was a season to remember for some.

A season to regret for others.

Here are 5 SEC players who would love to re-do the 2015 season, even if we include the sweltering conditioning days in July.

Duke Williams, Auburn

How quickly we forget that Williams’ dismissal played a key role in the Tigers fall from lofty preseason rankings to the bottom of the SEC West.

Auburn went 3-4 after Gus Malzahn finally booted Williams from the program after suspending him several times previously.

Williams not only hurt Auburn, he hurt himself. Nobody questions the physical tools or size (6-2, 224), but makeup questions abound, in part because this was his third or fourth chance, and he still blew it.

Despite being suspended from last season’s Outback Bowl, Williams still entered the 2015 season vying for top receiver honors with Laquon Treadwell. Many viewed him as a potential first-round pick. Now? It has been widely reported he might not be drafted at all in April.

Will Grier, Florida

How much fun would that SEC Championship Game had been if Will Grier had been under center, slinging darts, challenging the back end of Alabama’s secondary, instead of Treon Harris?

We’ll never know, and that’s the greatest regret of the 2015 season.

Grier’s misery — a season-long suspension for a failed PED test that also will impact the first half of next season — was self-induced, just like Williams’. Like Williams, he apologized to teammates. Like Williams, he watched his teammates suffer the consequences of his actions.

Florida’s season is easily divisible by games with Grier and without.

With Grier, the Gators were 6-0 overall, 4-0 in the SEC East. They thumped Ole Miss and put up 21 on a Missouri defense that didn’t surrender many points.

Without Grier, the Gators dropped 3 of 7 games and scored just 28 points once. Only a safety saved them from being shut out against FSU, and Treon Harris’ 46-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter against Alabama was the offense’s first in eight quarters.

Nick Chubb, Georgia

Chubb bore no culpability in his season-ending knee injury, but the impact went all the way to the top of the football program.

Remember, during the SEC Media Days, Leonard Fournette said Nick Chubb was the league’s best running back.

He certainly played like it early, ripping off five consecutive 120-plus yard games. Bottled up against Alabama, he still busted one for 83 yards en route to a 146-yard day.

Everything changed on his first carry against Tennessee, when his knee buckled, out of bounds, after a 2-yard carry.

Chubb was lost for the season, and Georgia’s offense was lost without him. And one day after the final regular season game, coach Mark Richt lost his job.

Maty Mauk, Missouri

What a curious career Maty Mauk has had. He arrived at Missouri the next in line to groom and develop into an NFL quarterback.

He threw 25 TDs last season. Given the QB uncertainty throughout the league, which we saw play out this season, he entered fall camp in the top half of quarterbacks. Coach Gary Pinkel suspended Mauk, reinstated him, then six days later booted him for the remainder of the season.

Pinkel was concerned Mauk’s repeated rules violations would negatively impact the team.

“You don’t like self-inflicted ones that tap in internally,” Pinkel told reporters. “It’s just the way it is. You’ve got to overcome them.”

Missouri couldn’t.

Patrick Towles, Kentucky

This was going to be the year. The year Kentucky finally won more SEC games than it lost for the first time since 1977.

And it started so well … and unraveled just as quickly.

Towles opened the season with 257 yards and three TDs. He rebounded from a narrow loss against Florida to throw for 249 yards and two TDs to beat Missouri.

The Wildcats were 4-1 when Auburn rolled into Lexington for a rare Thursday night primetime appearance.

Towles threw for a season-high 359 yards, but the Wildcats lost 30-27.

He threw two interceptions the following game in a blowout loss at Mississippi State.

His confidence was beginning to waiver. Fans began calling for his backup, Drew Barker, to save the season.

An ineffective day against Tennessee turned the whispers into roars and officially started the clock on the end of Towles’ career at Kentucky.

By the time he came off the bench against Louisville — Kentucky’s sixth loss in seven games — it seemed settled.

Two days later, Towles posted a good-bye letter to Kentucky fans, thanking them for the opportunity to lead his homestate school.

“Although I wish my time here in Lexington could have ended another way, I’m eternally grateful.”

Fortunately for Towles and the others, 2016 offers another opportunity, a chance to start over.

Chris Wright
An award-winning editor with previous stints at the Miami Herald, The Indianapolis Star and News & Observer, Executive Editor Chris Wright oversees editorial operations for Saturday Down South. Follow him on Twitter @CWrightSDS.
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