ESPN picks a breakout player for each SEC team in the top 25 entering 2021 season
As attention shifts to the fresh season of 2021 across the SEC, there will be a host of household names looking to run it back one more time, but also some breakout stars that will be known to even casual fans in 12 months’ time.
ESPN unveiled its 2021 breakout players for each Top 25 team, and here are the SEC picks:
No. 2 Alabama: DB Malachi Moore
It was noted that Moore was a starter on the 2020 defense, a rare move for a Nick Saban team. And Moore played multiple positions in the secondary as he collected 44 tackles and three interceptions, was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team and reminded some people in Tuscaloosa of a young Minkah Fitzpatrick.
No. 4 Georgia: QB JT Daniels
Daniels is the main reason why Georgia is a top 5 team this season, as many believe he could be the missing piece to deliver Georgia a championship combined with the 5-star talent assembled around the roster. He had very few disappointing stretches as he came on strong in the second half of the 2020 season. Now with the likes of George Pickens, Jermaine Burton, Kearis Jackson and Darnell Washington to throw to, don’t be surprised if Daniels look for big numbers next season.
No. 6 Texas A&M: RB Devon Achane
The freshman’s breakout may have come in the Orange Bowl with a long touchdown against North Carolina. But he had a strong debut season with an average of 8.5 yards per carry on just 43 carries. It made wonder how much more dynamic the Aggies’ offense would’ve been if Jimbo Fisher had worked him in more often. After Achane’s 12-carry, 140-yard MVP performance in the Orange Bowl after Spiller could have been foreshadowing for 2021.
No. 16 Florida: RB Dameon Pierce
The 2020 high-powered passing attack of the Gators will give way to a run-heavy approach behind the dual-threat Emory Jones at quarterback. With the addition of transfer Demarkcus Bowman, look for Pierce, who rushed for 511 yards and four touchdowns last season, to have a larger role, and a difficult equation for defenses to solve.
No. 18 Ole Miss: WRs Dontario Drummond & Braylon Sanders
ESPN went with two players for the Rebels, and there will be more availability for passes from Matt Corral with Elijah Moore moving on. Drummond caught 25 passes, including seven touchdowns, which was second to only Moore, in 2020. Sanders, meanwhile, averaged a whopping 25.1 yards per reception on his 15 catches. Drummond and Sanders are expected to be the latest beneficiaries of Lane Kiffin’s offense next season.
No. 20 LSU: WR Kayshon Boutte
The quarterback situation at LSU is unsettled, but the No. 1 receiver is now, since Terrace Marshall Jr. is off to the NFL. Boutte came on strong late, and went from never having more than 50 yards in a game, to suddenly racking up 100 or more yards in each of his final three games, including a record-setting finale against Ole Miss in which he finished with 308 yards and three touchdowns.