5 SEC teams losing most talent after 2015 season
Every SEC will lose key personnel after this season.
The graduations and early departures for the NFL hurt some programs more than others.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the 5 SEC schools that are losing the most talent in 2015.
The Tide is losing a ton of talent, arguably more than anybody, but the impact isn’t as great when you replace a 5-star recruit with a 5-star recruit. Alabama is expected to lose Heisman winner Derrick Henry early to the NFL draft. It also will lose most of its front seven on defense, likely including star junior A’Shawn Robinson.
There could be eight new starters on defense next season.
One key question is whether junior Eddie Jackson returns or declares for the NFL Draft. If Jackson returns, he’ll anchor the SEC’s best returning secondary that also includes Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey.
4. Mississippi State
The Bulldogs started 15 juniors in 2015, including play-making WRs Fred Ross and De’Runnya Wilson. Will they all return, knowing the Bulldogs will be breaking in a new QB?
Regardless, the biggest loss, maybe in the conference, is record-breaking QB Dak Prescott, who leaves Starkville as the greatest Bulldog ever.
Mississippi State simply has no one to fill his dual-threat shoes. Its 2016 recruiting class ranks No. 51 overall, 12th in the SEC.
Prescott’s departure, and the Bulldogs’ expected departure from a national contender, could lead to others.
Brandon Allen, who broke multiple school records, is a senior. He won’t be back. The key question in Fayetteville is how many of the play-makers he relied on will return?
RB Alex Collins is a junior running back, and with injuries always a risk, “junior running back” has almost become NFL code for leaving early. Its possible Arkansas could lose Collins and Jonathan Williams to the draft.
Both standout receivers, Drew Morgan and Dominique Reed, are juniors, as is tight end Hunter Henry. Morgan led the SEC with 10 TD catches. Reed was second in average yards per catch at 19.26.
Florida isn’t losing as many starters as Alabama, but the Gators are losing key ones. Especially on defense, where junior CB Vernon Hargreaves is expected to declare for the NFL Draft. He’s seen as a top-10 pick. Fellow junior Alex McCallister wasn’t as destructive as Dante Fowler the year before, but he tied senior Jonathan Bullard for the team lead with 6.5 sacks. McAlister is a candidate to declare but might want to return to Gainesville to add strength to his 6-6, 235-pound frame. Junior linebacker Jarrad Davis is more likely to leave early.
1. Ole Miss
Three Rebels juniors — Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil and Laquon Treadwell — were each rated the top player at their position in high school. All three are expected to declare and become early first-round selections in the April NFL Draft.
Unlike Alabama, Ole Miss doesn’t mass produce this type of talent.
TE Evan Engram also was part of that heralded 2013 class. He too could bolt, though it appears fellow classmate S Antonio Conner will return.
The key to 2016 is junior quarterback Chad Kelly.
He’s been coy when asked about whether he plans to return for his senior season or join the mass exodus. If he leaves, it’ll be next to impossible to replicate this season’s success — though give Hugh Freeze credit. Among the 2016 commitments are QB Shea Patterson, the top-rated QB, and DeKaylin Metcalf, the homegrown the second-rated WR from Oxford.
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) December 15, 2015