Power ranking the Top 10 players in the SEC through Week 7
Week 7 in the SEC brought another big win for No. 1 Georgia, which rolls into its bye week with an almost flawless defense and an improving offense that just posted 30 on a terrific Kentucky defense. There’s plenty of football left to be played, but it feels like this is finally the year for Georgia.
Elsewhere, Lane Kiffin embraced a rocky reception on Rocky Top, and, as he left the field following Ole Miss’s 31-26 win over the Vols, made a play on a water bottle that was positively “Top 10 list” worthy.
— Josh Pate (@LateKickJosh) October 17, 2021
Ole Miss-Tennessee was a terrific football game. Josh Heupel has brought energy and excitement back to Tennessee football and it is a shame the conduct of a few fans in a packed Neyland had to steal attention from the Vols’ progress.
LSU beat Florida in the latest wild and inexplicable installment of one of the SEC’s best annual games. The victory wasn’t enough to save Coach O, who was fired the following day. Coach Orgeron’s departure shifts the hottest seat in the SEC firmly over to the coach who lost the game, Dan Mullen. There are legitimate questions to ask about Dan Mullen’s future in Gainesville now and while I don’t think the Gators will make a change this offseason, they may have to if Mullen refuses to make significant staff changes, beginning with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
The week’s best story? That might belong to South Carolina backup quarterback Zeb Noland. After sitting 58 minutes, Zeb Noland came off the bench and led the Gamecocks on an 80-yard plus drive to avoid a home loss to Vanderbilt, cementing the win with a perfect throw on the game-winning touchdown. Noland began the season as a graduate assistant coach. He heads into the Texas A&M game as South Carolina’s starting quarterback.
On to the list!! Last week’s list is here.
I ask that you remember there are only 2 honorable mentions per school and in exchange, I’ll remember that ranking the best 10 players in the country’s best conference is a simple job that you could do better than me without leaving any good players out. Deal?
Honorable mentions: Evan Neal, OT (Alabama); Jameson Williams, WR (Alabama); Jalen Catalon, S (Arkansas); Ricky Stromberg, C (Arkansas); Roger McCreary, CB (Auburn); Smoke Monday, S (Auburn); Zachary Carter, DE (Florida); Kaiir Elam, CB (Florida); Quay Walker, LB (Georgia); Lewis Cine, S (Georgia); DeAndre Square, LB (Kentucky); Darian Kinnard, OT (Kentucky); Damone Clark, LB (LSU); BJ Ojulari, Edge (LSU); Will Rogers, QB (Mississippi State); Tyler Badie, RB (Missouri); Dontario Drummond, WR (Ole Miss); Sam Williams, DE (Ole Miss); Kingsley Enagbare, DE (South Carolina); Jaylan Foster, DB (South Carolina); Hendon Hooker, QB (Tennessee); Theo Jackson, DB (Tennessee); Leon O’Neal Jr., S (Texas A&M); DeMarvin Leal, DL (Texas A&M); Ethan Barr, LB (Vanderbilt).
10. Brock Bowers, TE (Georgia)
A first-time entry for Bowers, the prohibitive favorite for SEC Freshman of the Year. It doesn’t matter who is at quarterback for Georgia — Bowers has been open. He’s caught 25 of 30 targets and just had a huge game against Kentucky, hauling in 5 passes for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns, including this one that put the game to bed.
In the last 10 seasons, only seven SEC tight ends have scored 7+ TDs in a season.
— Kyle Pitts
— Jace Sternberger
— Jared Pinkney
— Irv Smith
— Albert Okwuegbunam
— Evan Engram
— And now Brock Bowers (who’s done it in his first seven career games)
— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) October 16, 2021
On the year, Bowers ranks 5th nationally among all tight ends in yards (416) and 2nd in touchdowns (6). A Florida team that hasn’t often covered tight ends under Todd Grantham waits next.
9. Zakoby McClain, LB (Auburn)
McClain makes the list for the first time in 2021 after a 15-tackle performance in Auburn’s 38-23 win over Arkansas this past weekend. McClain has been sensational in Derek Mason’s scheme, helping Auburn to a surprising 5-2 start under first-year head coach Bryan Harsin. McClain is a sideline to sideline ‘backer who plays on all three downs, and while he rarely rushes the passer, that is more schematic than a deficiency in McClain’s game. McClain leads Auburn linebackers with 4 pass breakups in 2021, demonstrating his value in coverage. He’s also Auburn’s leading tackler, with 53.
8. Treylon Burks, WR (Arkansas)
Burks moves up a spot after another big game — this time against a talented Auburn secondary. Burks hauled in 9 catches for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns, taking the SEC lead in receiving yardage in the process. Burks continues to showcase his prodigious talents in 1-on-1 coverage every week as well, with this catch standing out against Auburn.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 16, 2021
The Hogs have hit the skids a bit over the past few weeks, but it’s worth noting no one in college football has played a more difficult schedule, and that hasn’t halted Burks’ production. In fact, he keeps getting better.
7. Kenyon Green, OT (Texas A&M)
Green returns to the list for the first time since Week 0 after pacing an Aggies attack that steamrolled Missouri for 283 yards rushing on Saturday afternoon. Every other projected starter going into the year (Jahmir Johnson, Akinola Ogunbiyi, Luke Matthews and Layden Robinson) has missed time due to injury except Green, who has played at tackle and guard, depending on the team’s need. Jimbo Fisher has called Green the “best I’ve ever coached” at the position, heady praise for a head coach who has been around plenty of future NFL talents up front. Green was named SEC offensive lineman of the week for his efforts this past Saturday, and his play has really hit a new level over the past 2 weeks, including the Aggies big win over Alabama.
6. Wan’Dale Robinson, WR (Kentucky)
Robinson played well against Georgia, collecting 12 receptions, including a late touchdown to help Kentucky cap a ridiculous 22-play drive that closed the game. Robinson was held to just 47 total yards, however, as Kirby Smart’s plan to keep Robinson in front of them and trust his defense to tackle Robinson in space worked. Despite that, Robinson’s 49 receptions are the most in the SEC among “not Mike Leach” offenses and the talented playmaker continues to grade out as the best wide receiver in the SEC, per Pro Football Focus. The Cats have a bye this week, but should be salivating about Robinson facing a suspect Mississippi State secondary on Oct. 30.
5. Nakobe Dean, LB (Georgia)
Dean stays in the top 5 after another terrific performance against Kentucky. The junior tallied 7 tackles in the Dawgs’ victory, bringing his season total to 30, which is 2nd on the team. He’s also added 4 sacks and ranks in the top 10 in the SEC in quarterback pressures (impressive given his teammates and given how Georgia’s defense is so good it doesn’t play many snaps). He has an interception for good measure. His prowess as a pass rusher and in coverage makes him a 3-down ‘backer for Dan Lanning and Kirby Smart and is a big reason he grades out as the 2nd-best linebacker in college football, per Pro Football Focus.
4. Bryce Young, QB (Alabama)
Young, technically still a freshman due to the NCAA’s extra “COVID” year, continues to play well beyond his years. This week, he was nearly flawless in a 350-yard, 4-touchdown performance in Alabama’s rout of Mississippi State. Young also spreads the wealth beautifully — 4 Crimson Tide players caught touchdown passes on Saturday and 10 Alabama players have a TD catch this season, a number that’s good for second nationally.
Young leads all non-Mike Leach quarterbacks in yards passing this season (2,082) and his 24 touchdowns lead the SEC. He’s also only .09 behind Matt Corral and Hendon Hooker for the lead in yards per attempt — and his numbers may only increase as Bill O’Brien becomes more comfortable allowing Young to test defenses down the field.
That’s already happening of late, as the Tide have attempted 15 more passes of 15 yards or more in their past 2 games than they did in the prior 2. Some of that is situational, given the Tide trailed at Texas A&M for much of the game. But the large disparity also suggests increasing trust in Young, a good thing for Alabama’s championship aspirations.
3. Will Anderson, LB (Alabama)
Anderson was unblockable Saturday night in Starkville. To wit: a career-high 4 sacks, a career-high 7 pressures, along with 6 overall tackles, 5 of which were for loss. The Alabama linebacker now leads the SEC in sacks (7), a number that ranks 2nd nationally. The SEC Defensive Player of the Week is not someone who thinks much of your failure to leave a running back in to block, either:
Will Anderson is a beast 😤🔥https://t.co/ByzYnUAjHM
— Alabama DieHards (@DiehardsAlabama) October 17, 2021
Most seasons, Anderson would be the front-runner for the Bednarik Award. This year, he’s in a battle for SEC Defensive Player of the Year because the No. 1 player on this list exists.
2. Matt Corral, QB (Ole Miss)
Way back in high school, when Corral was committed to Florida and Jim McElwain, Corral was thought of as a guy who could extend plays with his legs, but not necessarily a guy who can change games with his running ability. He’s blossomed into an electric runner and complete football player under Lane Kiffin, a testament to Corral’s work ethic and Kiffin’s coaching.
Saturday against Tennessee, the junior showed out, running a ridiculous 30 times for 195 yards. Many of those runs came on pass plays where the Vols’ excellent secondary simply had receivers blanketed. Corral finally tossed an interception Saturday night, his first of the 2021 campaign after 14 a season ago. He’s the SEC’s leader in yards per pass attempt and total yardage, and a bona fide Heisman front-runner. If he plays against a depleted LSU secondary, a Heisman-type statement game is waiting.
1. Jordan Davis, DT (Georgia)
I’m just going to keep urging people to consider Davis for the Heisman Trophy. If the award is really about the best “player,” he should at least receive an invitation to the ceremony. “But he only had 3 tackles against Kentucky,” you might say. Sure, I’d counter. But watch the game. Here’s one of those tackles, where he gobbles up a double team — and Kentucky’s ball carrier — all in one fell electric burst.
Jordan Davis is just a laughably talented athlete pic.twitter.com/yMGG2Tv5Lq
— Richard🇬🇾Johnson (@RJ_Writes) October 16, 2021
I mean, seriously, if you are Kavosiey Smoke on this play, and you see this, what do you do?
new safety rule from the NCAA: if jordan davis has crossed the line of scrimmage before you've gotten the hand off you get to just sit down and no one can be mad at you. pic.twitter.com/HaQYLYnyZl
— Sarah(Daw)G (@sarahg1561) October 17, 2021
And that’s the thing Davis does to defenses. If you double him, and you basically must, you free up at least one spot for one of Georgia’s other gargantuan defensive talents. If you triple-team him, which you might, that number increases to two. Kirby Smart can deploy Davis to functionally negate numerical advantages offenses create in spread schemes. If that’s not an example of a “most valuable” or “best” modern college football player, what is?
I don’t have a Heisman vote. But I know my All-SEC ballot will be simple, and Davis is the leader in the clubhouse, at least on this writer’s ballot, for SEC Player of the Year.