Ranking the 10 best SEC East players in 2015
Tired of the SEC West receiving all the love during the preseason?
You should be used to it by now. And it’s not going to change until the East takes back the throne, something that could happen this fall thanks to a pair of elite teams and considerable talent at several positions.
Here are the 10 best individual players in the SEC East entering the fall:
Also Considered: Curt Maggitt, DL, Tennessee; Kentrell Brothers, LB, Mizzou; Russell Hansbrough, RB, Mizzou; Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia
10. Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee: If the Vols are serious about competing for a conference championship this season, the determining factor is Dobbs, the only quarterback in this list. He’s the most athletic player at his position in the division and has a chance to blossom as one of college football’s top dual threats in Mike DeBord’s revised offensive scheme.
9. Harold Brantley, DL, Mizzou: Many are quick to dismiss the Tigers’ pass-rush capabilities this season following the loss of Shane Ray, Markus Golden and Marcus Loud, but don’t overlook this dominant nose tackle, a fleet-footed run-stopper who is one of the nation’s best on the interior.
8. Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina: An All-American and easily the best player on his team, Cooper’s role will expand this fall into a multi-position threat on offense with the football in his hands. He averaged 16.5 yards per catch as a sophomore, second only to LSU’s Travin Dural among returning wide receivers.
7. Lorenzo Carter, DL, Georgia: The SEC’s newcomer of the year last fall as a true freshman, Carter’s hype is real as a hybrid defender who possesses Jadeveon Clowney-like quickness and speed. He added muscle during the offseason and flourished this spring as the Bulldogs’ best player on defense. Based on potential, the sky’s the limit for the Norcross, Ga. native.
6. Greg Pyke, OL, Georgia: One of several top-notch people movers on Brian Schottenheimer’s offense this season, Pyke was arguably the Bulldogs’ most consistent run blocker last fall and earned second team all-conference accolades. Paired with Kolton Houston and John Theus on the edges, Pyke’s the anchor on the Eastern Division’s most complete offensive line.
5. Cam Sutton, DB, Tennessee: The Vols’ most versatile defender, Sutton has started the first 25 games of his career at cornerback but Tennessee’s defensive staff is playing with the idea of sliding their best defensive back over to the nickel spot to take advantage of his supreme playmaking ability. If he has any say in the matter, Sutton will try and take Vernon Hargreaves’ crown as the league’s best in coverage by season’s end.
4. Derek Barnett, DL, Tennessee: Perceived as the league’s defensive player of the year frontrunner alongside Robert Nkemdiche and Myles Garrett, Barnett outplayed both highly-skilled pass rushers last fall with a rookie season for the ages in Knoxville. Barnett has an innate ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage and is the SEC’s most disruptive specimen up front.
3. Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia: One of college football’s most athletic outside linebackers, Floyd can do a little bit of everything on Jeremy Pruitt’s defense. He moves swiftly in coverage, is an expert pass rusher with a slender frame and isn’t afraid to hit the hole in run support. Floyd will come off the board in the first round next May as a three-year player.
2. Vernon Hargreaves, DB, Florida: This silent assassin controls his side of the field from start to finish as a two-time All-American cornerback and rarely sees a pass thrown his way he can’t get a hand on. The league’s leader in total breakups over the last two years, Hargreaves is a future franchise defender that first-year defensive coordinator Geoff Collins has the luxury of coaching at least one season in Gainesville.
1. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: What more needs to be said about the SEC’s best running back? In relief of Todd Gurley last season, the five-star 2014 signee left college football in his wake with 1,547 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. He punctuated a fantastic freshman campaign with a stamp of approval in Georgia’s bowl win, chewing up Louisville for 266 yards on the ground. If the Bulldogs reach the College Football Playoff this season, Chubb will be a Heisman finalist.