SDS Mailbag: DeVonta Smith NFL comp, top returning SEC football players and early SEC hoops surprises
Tomorrow is our first Saturday without SEC football since the season began back in September. And, technically, it’s our first Saturday without college football since August, as that’s when a couple of other conferences started their seasons.
Thus, a lot of eyes will be on basketball for the first time this season. There’s a full slate of SEC games on Saturday, highlighted by Alabama at Auburn, Kentucky at Florida and LSU at Mizzou.
So, sit back and enjoy some men’s hoops action on Saturday as we gear up for the College Football Playoff title game on Monday night.
Now, let’s get to your questions for this week’s SDS Mailbag:
What’s your NFL comp for DeVonta Smith?
I’ve seen the Heisman winner from Alabama compared to a number of NFL legends. He’s drawn comparisons to NFL Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, and that’s a comp I really like. (Credit to Daniel Jeremiah for that one.)
But, instead of comparing him to a Hall of Fame receiver, I’ll simply compare Smith to a future Hall of Fame receiver. How about Larry Fitzgerald? Smith is a couple of inches shorter than Fitzgerald and is probably a bit faster than Fitz was coming out of college, but he’s a guy you can line up all over the field.
And, like Fitzgerald, Smith is a player who goes about his business without a bunch of drama. You’re never going to hear about Smith being a diva, and that has been Fitzgerald’s reputation, too. Also, like Fitz, I think Smith has the potential to have a long, successful NFL career. Now, we’ll just have to see where he ends up getting drafted in April.
With so many players announcing their 2021 NFL Draft/returning to school decisions, which SEC player are you most excited to see returning to the field next fall?
It seems like there have been a dozen or more players announcing their 2021 intentions every single day the past couple of weeks, but I suppose that’s to be expected after the NCAA ruled that the 2020 season doesn’t count toward eligibility.
I’m going to go with JT Daniels at Georgia. He’ll be an early Heisman favorite and with a guy like George Pickens returning at receiver, he should have a solid offense to work with. Daniels completely changed the Bulldogs’ offense when he took over as the starter, and with a full season in 2021, the Dawgs could do some big things.
I’m also happy to see guys like Auburn LB Zakoby McClain, Auburn DB Smoke Monday, Georgia DL Jordan Davis, Ole Miss LB MoMo Sanogo, Ole Miss QB Matt Corral and others returning to school.
I was hoping to see Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond come back, but I totally understand his decision to turn pro. I’ll never fault a guy for trying to make some money playing the game he loves. A&M will have plenty of talent to work with next year even without Mond, though he’ll be tough to replace.
Which team has surprised you, either in a good way or bad way, the most thus far in the SEC hoops season?
Well, I’ll give you one of each. The team that has surprised me in a good way has been Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are 2-1 in SEC play and are a double-overtime loss against Kentucky away from being 3-0. They absolutely embarrassed Mizzou in the second half on Tuesday, outscoring the Tigers 51-24 after trailing 39-27 at halftime.
DJ Stewart Jr. and Iverson Molinar are one of the top backcourt tandems in the league. I have a feeling there will be plenty more wins in the Bulldogs’ future as long as those 2 continue to dominate.
On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been disappointed with Auburn. The Tigers are 0-3 in SEC action and are coming off a beatdown at the hands of Ole Miss. The final score was 72-61, but anyone who watched the game knows it wasn’t even that close.
Considering Auburn hosts Alabama and travels to Georgia in the next week, things could get worse for Bruce Pearl’s squad before they get better.
Six SEC teams (Arkansas, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt) finished with losing records in 2020. Which of those teams will have the best record in 2021?
That’s a tough one. I’ll eliminate Mississippi State, as I think the Bulldogs need another year under Mike Leach before they are competitive. I’ll also eliminate Tennessee, as there’s too much turmoil on Rocky Top. That has disaster written all over it. I’ll also cross off Vanderbilt, for obvious reasons. And, I think Kentucky is set to take a step back after losing a lot of talent from the 2020 roster.
That leaves South Carolina and Arkansas. I’m going to go with the Razorbacks, as I think they’ll finish the 2021 season with a winning record. I like what coach Sam Pittman did in his first year at the helm of the program, and DC Barry Odom and OC Kendal Briles are both really good at their jobs.
I do think the Hogs will miss QB Feleipe Franks, who is heading to the 2021 NFL Draft, but KJ Jefferson has shown flashes of brilliance and should be fine if he wins the job. The Gamecocks also have plenty of talent, but like Mississippi State, I think it’ll take Shane Beamer a couple of years to turn things around.
It won’t be easy, but I think Pittman can get the Hogs to 6 wins this coming fall and then take his chances in a bowl game to finish with a winning record.
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.