Power Ranking the Top 10 players in the SEC through Week 12
Cupcake Week gives way to Rivalry Week but not without a few things to be thankful for for all SEC fans.
The Alabama-Arkansas game was a gift to home and hearths across the south, and it cemented Bryce Young’s status in the top 5 of this list. Tennessee dropped 60 again, and regardless of opponent, you have to love the direction of the program under Josh Heupel. How about South Carolina and Shane Beamer? First, they embarrass Florida. Two weeks later, they wipeout Auburn. Talk about a November to remember — and they haven’t even played Clemson yet.
Cupcake Week also gave us overtime between Missouri and Florida in CoMo, and after Eli “All Guts, 6-5 glory” Drinkwitz went for 2 and got it to win the game, Dan Mullen found himself the 2nd SEC head coach dismissed this season.
Cupcake Week also sees a little movement at the top of the list, thanks to a big — and I mean big — touchdown.
Last Week’s list is here.
Honorable mentions, limited to 2 per school, are first. Yes, it is hard to make a list of the 10 best players in the toughest, best league in the country, but your kind messages about how terrible my rankings are makes it all worth it. I’m grateful to all of you for these kind messages, especially this time of year. Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your loved ones.
Honorable mentions: Evan Neal, OT (Alabama); Henry To’o To’o, LB (Alabama); Grant Morgan, LB (Arkansas); KJ Jefferson, QB (Arkansas); Zakoby McClain, LB (Auburn); Smoke Monday, S (Auburn); Dameon Pierce, RB (Florida); Zachary Carter, DE (Florida); Brock Bowers, TE (Georgia); James Cook, RB (Georgia); Darian Kinnard, OT (Kentucky); Josh Paschal, DL (Kentucky); Micah Baskerville, LB (LSU); BJ Ojulari, Edge (LSU); Jett Johnson, LB (Mississippi State); Will Rogers III, QB (Mississippi State); Tyler Badie, RB (Missouri); Michael Maietti, C (Missouri); Jerrion Ealy, RB (Ole Miss); Sam Williams, DE (Ole Miss); Jaylan Foster, DB (South Carolina); Kingsley Enagbare, DE (South Carolina); Jeremy Banks, LB (Tennessee); Hendon Hooker, QB (Tennessee); DeMarvin Leal, DL (Texas A&M); Antonio Johnson, CB (Texas A&M); Chris Pierce, Jr., WR (Vanderbilt).
10. Jameson Williams, WR (Alabama)
Got a text about the list last week from a friend who is an Alabama fan. “When will you get Jameson on the list?” It was a fair question. Even before he posted 190 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns against Arkansas, he was among the top 3 in the SEC in receiving yards and leading the SEC in touchdowns and yards per catch. And then this happened:
Jameson Williams ✌🏼
…loving all the All22 replays 👍🏼 pic.twitter.com/zVjEPdU5xY
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) November 20, 2021
Alabama needed everything it got from Williams in Saturday’s nip and tuck win over Arkansas. It seems like the Ohio State transfer made the right decision to head to Alabama. He now leads the SEC in receiving yards and touchdowns and makes his debut on this list just in time for the Iron Bowl.
9. Chance Campbell, LB (Ole Miss)
It was another terrific week for Campbell, who tallied 8 tackles, including 1 for loss, along with 3 quarterback hurries and 6 pressures in Saturday’s win over Vanderbilt. On the season, Campbell has 87 tackles, including 6 sacks. He has recovered 3 fumbles, forced 2, and ranks 3rd on Ole Miss in quarterback hurries. The Maryland transfer has anchored a tremendous turnaround by a defense that has the team on the cusp on a New Year’s 6 bowl appearance. The Egg Bowl, where legacies at Ole Miss live forever, waits next.
8. Damone Clark, LB (LSU)
The SEC’s leading tackler, Clark had 7 stops, including 2 for loss, in LSU’s win over La.-Monroe Saturday night. He added a pass breakup and a pair of quarterback pressures, for good measure. LSU has played salty defense down the stretch, and that’s a testament not just to Clark’s production but his leadership. Holding that Alabama team to 20 is no joke, and LSU was stout in the Golden Boot game as well against a terrific Arkansas offense. To play a bowl game, they’ll need to be great this weekend against Texas A&M too, but Clark makes a win possible.
7. Matt Corral, QB (Ole Miss)
The Rebels’ quarterback participated in Senior Day activities prior to the win over Vanderbilt, meaning his time in Oxford is winding down. Corral was accurate and efficient against Vanderbilt, throwing for 326 yards and 2 touchdowns against Vanderbilt, though he did throw his 3rd interception of the season in the win. Corral was spectacular in last season’s Egg Bowl win, throwing for 385 yards and 2 touchdowns in a game that really set the tone for the giant 2021 season to come. The last time he went to Starkville, however, he finished with just 116 total yards and threw an interception in a 21-20 loss. That seems like ages ago, but he’ll have a chance to vindicate that this week when he faces off with Will Rogers III in one of the nation’s most anticipated quarterback duels.
6. Treylon Burks, WR (Arkansas)
Burks is back in the the top 10 after a monster game against Alabama. This play, where he has the recognition to come back to the back shoulder throw, and then, from a full stop, outruns the entire Alabama secondary, is just magic:
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 20, 2021
Burks finished the game with 8 catches on 12 targets, 179 yards and 2 touchdowns. That’s outstanding stuff, and he’s done it all season, ranking 3rd in the SEC in receiving yards, 5th in receptions (59) and 2nd in yards per reception (16.5, minimum 25 receptions). He’s the key to what keeps a run-heavy offense multiple, and, after a terrible game against Georgia, he came up huge against the “other” toughest team on Arkansas’ schedule.
5. Wan’Dale Robinson, WR (Kentucky)
The SEC’s highest rated wide receiver, per Pro Football Focus, Robinson just keeps producing. He was an unstoppable force in Kentucky’s Cupcake Week win over New Mexico State, posting 181 yards on 8 receptions and hauling in all but two of his 10 targets. On the season, Robinson is the SEC’s second leading receiver with 1,067 yards, and he also slots in at 2nd in the league in receptions with 85. He’s a Rondale Moore type who should be a high NFL Draft pick, and with 2 guaranteed games remaining, he has a chance to get the 244 yards he’d need to set Kentucky’s single season receiving yards mark, held by Craig Yeast since 1998. That Robinson is threatening Yeast, who posted his record numbers in a pass happy offense with Tim Couch as his quarterback, is a testament to how special this season has been for Robinson on the bluegrass.
4. Nakobe Dean, LB (Georgia)
Dean played only sparingly in Georgia’s 56-7 rout of Charleston Southern, collecting a tackle and a pass breakup in just over a quarter of action. Was the junior playing his final game in Athens? Time will tell. He should see the field much more against rival Georgia Tech Saturday in Atlanta, and then he’ll have at least 2 games (the SEC Championship and the College Football Playoff semifinal) to make a closing statement on a tremendous junior season at Georgia.
3. Bryce Young, QB (Alabama)
Young rockets into the top 3 after carrying the Crimson Tide to victory Saturday on a day when his defense wasn’t able to get off the field consistently. His 559 yards against the Hogs set an Alabama single game record and the Tide needed all of his 5 touchdown throws to avoid the upset. He heads into the Iron Bowl as a one of the Heisman favorites thanks to inch perfect throws like the TD toss to John Metchie Saturday.
Young isn’t flashy, but he’s lethally acccurate, extends plays with his legs, and has improved at reading progressions each week — a big reason the Tide have expanded the playbook and become one of the most efficient offenses in the country down the stretch.
2. Will Anderson, LB (Alabama)
Anderson’s numbers are absolutely Heisman worthy: 78 tackles, with 13 sacks (2nd in country) and a SEC lead in quarterback pressures. But last week was the latest evidence that as good as Anderson is, he doesn’t make his defense as schematically invincible as our number one player in this week’s rankings does. That’s not Anderson’s fault — it’s just that there’s only so much an Edge player can do to change how you approach a defense. It’s also noteworthy that Arkansas ran right at Anderson more than any team since pre-implosion Florida. The results weren’t great for the Hogs’ ground game. But the Hogs did manage to reign in his influence by forcing him to constantly be involved in run stopping. That’s an interesting schematic approach, and one that might be the only way to “slow” the Alabama All-American down.
1. Jordan Davis, DT (Georgia)
Kirby Smart … the people’s champion?
Perhaps. After all, he let Jordan Davis score a touchdown on Senior Day. And yes, it was horrible and beautiful all at once:
Jordan Davis. The running back. Pretty sure that’s a health code violation. pic.twitter.com/ZzOi8iZpi1
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) November 20, 2021
Davis is a schematic nightmare, with his gargantuan size and freakish quickness:
Jordan Davis (Georgia IDL 99) has rare quickness for a player of his size. pic.twitter.com/VCZU8tRaiH
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) November 23, 2021
If you double-team him, and you have to, of course, it frees up one of Smart’s 721 other 5-star defenders to make a play. If you triple him, and Stats Solutions says 8 Georgia opponents have, for at least 1 snap, it frees up 2. Math is usually hard, but Jordan Davis makes math simple: You have to deal with Georgia’s man in the middle and doing so creates numbers issues that are problematic against a defense as good as Georgia’s.
It’s why 1980 jokes are on their deathbed, and why Jordan Davis is the best player in the SEC.