Best returning position group for every SEC team
Champions have been crowned and almost all draft decisions have been made.
Therefore, it’s time to look ahead to 2016, and the best position group for each SEC team.
Alabama reloads like few others: the offensive line will be a strength, as will the receivers. ‘Bama fans are convinced that Bo Scarbrough is Derrick Henry 2.0. But that ball-hawking secondary, led by returning senior Eddie Jackson, who had a key interception in the championship game, will lock down receivers long enough for the mostly new defensive line to find its way.
Offensive line will always be a strength on any Bret Bielema-coached team, but Brooks Ellis and Dre Greenlaw lead a group that returns intact.
AUBURN: Running backs
Jovon Robinson sharing carries with a healthy Peyton Barber and Roc Thomas is a nice place to start any offense. It’s also another reason run-first Jeremy Johnson should be the starting quarterback.
FLORIDA: Wide receivers
The group returns virtually intact, led by rising sophomore Antonio Callaway. They’ll get a boost, too, because Treon Harris won’t be the guy throwing to them.
GEORGIA: Running backs
Nick Chubb entered last season as the SEC’s top back. His injury allowed Sony Michel enough time and touches to rush for 1,000 yards. They’re both back.
Close call because the running game will be better too if Stanley Williams can stay healthy all season, but Garrett Johnson and Dorian Baker will provide big plays and reliable hands for sophomore QB Drew Barker.
LSU: Running backs
LSU’s wideouts are explosive, but there’s no need to overthink the obvious. Leonard Fournette is back to make another run at 2,000 yards, and Derrius Guice doesn’t give defenses a chance to catch their breath.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: Receivers
It hurt when De’Runnya Wilson declared for the draft, but Fred Ross is back along with Fred Brown. Ross had 88 catches in 13 games and was one of four SEC receivers to crack 1,000 yards. He’ll help ease the transition to a new QB in Year 1 AD (After Dak).
MISSOURI: Defensive line
Walter Brady and Charles Harris each had 7.0 sacks last season. Even better, their new head coach is their former defensive coordinator, so the D-line’s strengths will be played to.
OLE MISS: Quarterback
Who is the Rebels’ backup? They’re hoping not to find out. Chad Kelly is back, and he returns with a solid chance of becoming the first QB in SEC history to throw for 4,000 yards in two seasons.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Wide receivers
Pharoh Cooper’s expected departure for the NFL will hurt, but the Gamecocks have plenty of capable playmakers to take his place. Deebo Samuel, in particular, and Terry Googer now move into the spotlight.
The Vols have stars at every level, in every group, but 2016 will begin and end with Joshua Dobbs. Already among the best SEC QBs in 2015, if he can make another jump in 2016, the Vols will be in position to back up all of the lofty accolades that are heading their way.
TEXAS A&M: Wide receivers
DE Myles Garrett will get his, and fortunately for him, Aggies opponents usually will be engaged in a shootout thanks to a passing game that returns Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds. In Kevin Sumlin’s plug-n-play offense, the QB is merely the guy supplying the quarters to keep the game going.
VANDERBILT: Running backs
Ralph Webb somehow cracked 1,000 yards last season when he was the only offensive option the Commodores had.