I’ll be honest. A spring game all-star nod shouldn’t be at the top of your résumé. There are a few players — who’ll remain nameless — that unfortunately followed that path.

I hope that the guys I’ll reference today won’t be in that camp. Instead, we’ll look back on their spring game success and realize that it was the preamble for a big season.

Let’s acknowledge some obvious factors. It’s tough for certain people to stand out in a spring game. Offensive linemen probably aren’t in position to be obvious standouts. Even mobile quarterbacks are at a disadvantage in a spring game setting. A lot of programs don’t track tackles in a spring game, so that’s another thing working against a defensive player. To omit some of them is not to disrespect them. Anyone can be a fall all-star.

But for today, let’s stick with the 10 SEC spring game all-stars:

Mykel Williams, Georgia DL

Go ask Carson Beck about Williams on G-Day. The dude was everywhere. He tipped a pass to himself and picked it off, he tipped another pass and it felt like he was generating pressure play after play. That was a welcome sight for a guy who played well last year but wasn’t necessarily a breakout game-wrecker up front. UGA plans on lining him up off the edge a bit more in a 2-point stance, which bodes well for his short and long-term outlook. As long as Williams can stay healthy, look out. If he can disrupt that UGA first-team offensive line and make life difficult on Beck, he can do that to anyone in the sport.

Dominic Lovett, Georgia WR

There was a clear go-to option for Beck, and it was the former Mizzou transfer. Lovett passed the century mark and hauled in the best catch of the spring in the final minute to force a G-Day tie. Pinning the ball to the back of a defensive back in the end zone isn’t exactly what the slot receiver has been known for, but getting open and being a reliable target certainly is. With Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey off to the NFL, Lovett stands to benefit a great deal as someone who likes to operate in the middle of the field. It’s incredible to think that there’s a sense that UGA now has more depth than it did last year at the pass-catching options. Lovett is a driving force behind that.

Germie Bernard, Alabama WR

Bernard could be better than any Alabama receiver of the last 2 seasons. I would’ve believed that even if he didn’t go off in the spring game, but he did. His highlight of the day was a beautiful route — he might’ve gotten away with a pushoff — on a ball that Jalen Milroe put in a perfect spot. Bernard showed off his versatility and his knowledge of the Kalen DeBoer offense after following him from Washington. Bernard was only the 4th option in the passing game, but that was behind 3 soon-to-be NFL receivers. He’s got a different opportunity in an Alabama receiver room that lacks proven veterans. Milroe said after his spring game showing Bernard is “special.” He’s got a chance to be just that for the new-look Tide.

Cam Coleman, Auburn WR

I agree with Hugh Freeze when he says that Coleman “changes” Auburn. It didn’t take long for the 5-star early enrollee to make his presence felt. Coleman earned Offensive MVP honors after hauling in 4 catches for 92 yards, including the game’s only score, which was a highlight-reel play in man coverage in the 4th quarter. That wasn’t even the most noteworthy play he made. He hauled in a diving catch on a deep ball from Hank Brown that might’ve been better than any play made by an Auburn receiver last year. There’s hope — and now some confirmation bias — that Coleman will step in and become a go-to target from the jump.

DJ Lagway, Florida QB

Speaking of 5-star early enrollee skill-players who looked like SEC-ready game-changers, Lagway certainly checked that box. Lagway’s size, precision and arm strength was on full display. His touchdown pass that had enough zip to split a pair of converging safeties and had enough height to get over a linebacker in coverage. It was an NFL-level throw from an 18-year-old. He looked the part all day, and while he wasn’t perfect (he had an interception in which he missed a linebacker in coverage), Lagway somehow added even more hype to his arrival. Billy Napier will enter fall trying to navigate ways to make Lagway a part of the offense while developing Graham Mertz as the starter in Year 2 in Gainesville.

Garrett Nussmeier, LSU QB

The headline of the day was how familiar it felt watching the LSU defense, and not in a good way. But the flip side of the coverage busts was that Nussmeier saw that and was excellent getting the ball to open receivers. He was 7-for-7 for 187 yards with 2 touchdown passes and 1 poorly executed “Duck, Duck, Goose” celebration after stepping up in the pocket to find uncovered Mississippi State transfer Zavion Thomas. That was perhaps the only knock on Nussmeier’s day. At the same time, if that’s the biggest area of improvement for Nussmeier in his first season as QB1 in Baton Rouge, LSU’s offense won’t have a dramatic regression in a post-Jayden Daniels world.

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Jeremiah Telander, Tennessee LB

I’m not saying that leading tackler Elijah Herring hit the portal just as a result of Telander’s early emergence, but one could connect those dots after seeing him build off his late true freshman season with a 2-sack performance in the spring game. Telander is going to be a significant playmaker in Tim Banks’ defense. After he was in more of a garbage time role early, he started to establish himself late last season when he averaged 28 snaps per game. That’s hard to do as a true freshman in the SEC. Telander is an excellent breakout candidate in that front 7, especially with all eyes on James Pearce Jr.

Brandon Turnage, Ole Miss CB

OK, he’s only on here because he won a dunk contest.

No notes, indeed.

Nic Scourton, Texas A&M Edge

If you weren’t aware of Scourton’s game, well, let’s just say that you should be now. He harassed the A&M offense and had 7 tackles and 3.5 sacks, along with 2.5 unofficial sacks. There was no guarding Scourton in his A&M debut. It felt like every other play was him beating an A&M tackle and getting into the backfield. The Purdue transfer led the Big Ten in sacks last year and opted to return home to the area for his pre-Draft season. At 19 years old, Scourton looks like he could be A&M’s best player. He and Shemar Stewart could end up being one of the best defensive end duos in all of college football.

Arch Manning, Texas QB

You knew we were getting here. Manning was remarkable on Saturday. The redshirt freshman was 19-for-25 for 355 yards with 3 touchdowns and his last-ditch Hail Mary was picked off. At the end of the first half, Isaiah Bond actually dropped what could’ve been another touchdown for Manning, though he made up for it later by getting behind the defense and hauling in a 75-yard score. It was an ideal way for Manning to build off the praise he got from Steve Sarkisian for his Year 2 maturation. There’s not a quarterback battle in Austin because Quinn Ewers is still one of the 5 best at the position in the entire sport, but let’s not forget that he missed multiple games in each of the last 2 seasons. If Manning’s number is called in 2024, his spring game showing suggested that he’ll be much more prepared for that task than he would’ve been as a true freshman.

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