The 2010s All-Decade SEC Team: The Offense
The decade is over and the debate is just beginning.
Who deserves to be named to the SEC All-Decade Offensive Team?
It’s a question that we’ve tried to tackle over the course of the past 2 weeks with individual team breakdowns. But now, it’s time to bump it out to the entire SEC.
“All-Decade” means that we’re talking about from 2010-19. Sorry, Julio Jones, who played the majority of his college career in the 2000s decade.
There are certain guys who made this list who won’t have the career numbers that others at their position had. But perhaps their peak was better than the other person, or maybe they didn’t have those career numbers because they only played 2 years as a starter instead of 3.
On the other hand, there are some times in which the body of work is just so overwhelming that it can’t not be included here. Every player and every case is different. The common denominator here? If you were great at what you did — even if that was only for 1 year — you had a legitimate shot to make this list.
Speaking of great 1-year wonders …
QB: Cam Newton, Auburn
The best 1-year wonder in college football history, in my opinion. Newton’s lone season on The Plains finished with the most impressive hat trick that one can obtain in the SEC — a Heisman Trophy, an SEC championship and a national championship. The individual heroics stood out. Between him running away from Patrick Peterson against LSU or the “Cam-back” game in the 2010 Iron Bowl, Newton revolutionized the position. He’s 2nd all-time in the SEC with 51 touchdowns responsible for in 2010.
Why Newton over Johnny Manziel, Tua Tagovailoa or AJ McCarron? It’s a fair question considering those quarterbacks had ridiculous multi-year runs. Joe Burrow just turned in the greatest single season by a QB in SEC history and might cap it with a national title. I went with Newton because the way he put that team on his back at so many key points during a national championship season was a trump card. He’s an SEC legend, and his 2010 season will forever be one of college football’s best.
QB Honorable Mention
Joe Burrow (LSU), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Aaron Murray (Georgia), A.J. McCarron (Alabama), Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Dak Prescott (Mississippi State).
RB: Derrick Henry, Alabama
Let’s keep the Heisman train rolling here. Henry had more talent around him then Newton did when he won the Heisman and national championship in 2015, but the Alabama tailback had a similar “put the team on his back” finish to the season. The SEC’s single-season rushing leader (2,219) carried the ball 146 times (!) in Alabama’s last 4 games, which is Herschel Walker-like. What he did to end Alabama’s national championship drought — it was a long 2 years in Tuscaloosa — was the stuff of legend.
Henry is on here for his single-year feat, and some debate that Christian McCaffrey was more deserving of the Heisman. Still, though. He was a physical freak to move that quickly — without looking like he was trying — at that size. No SEC running back had a better season this decade than Henry.
RB: Nick Chubb, Georgia
Save the “he wasn’t even the best running back on his own team” argument. Sony Michel was great. Chubb, in my opinion, was better. Despite the brutal injuries he dealt with that undoubtedly prevented him from becoming the SEC’s all-time rushing leader, he still finished 2nd on that list behind Walker (I know that Chubb had 14 more games, but Herschel actually had 236 more carries).
Let’s not forget that while Chubb was often in the same breath as Michel, his best was incredibly good. He had 1,760 yards from scrimmage as a true freshman in the SEC, which is just a ridiculous feat.
— GATA Dawgs (@BassinDawg) August 29, 2017
The senior season he delivered after his injury-plagued sophomore and junior seasons made his case to be on this list. He racked up 1,345 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns as the best player for a Georgia team that went to its first national championship since 1982. He’s an all-time great player who has an incredible body of work.
RB Honorable Mention
Leonard Fournette (LSU), Sony Michel (Georgia), Trent Richardson (Alabama), Tre Mason (Auburn), Ralph Webb (Vanderbilt), Benny Snell (Kentucky), Todd Gurley (Georgia), Alex Collins (Arkansas), Derrius Guice (LSU).
WR: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
This is another “body of work” case. The average fan might not remember that Matthews set the SEC career marks for receptions (262) and receiving yards (3,759) during his 4 years in Nashville. He was a product of a James Franklin offense that took Vanderbilt to new heights. Granted, Matthews was all sorts of talented.
When he became a full-time starter as a sophomore, Matthews averaged 82 catches for 1,193 yards in his final 3 seasons. Matthews might not have been the athlete that other 5-star SEC greats were, but that shouldn’t take away from a truly remarkable career. He didn’t have an all-time great quarterback throwing to him, either.
(No offense, Jordan Rodgers.)
WR: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
In the 25-year history of the Biletnikoff Award, only 3 receivers came from the SEC. Jeudy is one of them (I’ll get to one of the other guys in a minute here). What Jeudy did in that Alabama offense in 2018 was video game-like. He was Tua Tagovailoa’s go-to target in a historic offense that really wasn’t stopped until the national championship. Jeudy put up those numbers despite the fact that Alabama had so many weapons and they rarely passed much in the second half of games. A lot of that was Jeudy’s doing.
And while he didn’t break out as a true freshman, he still contributed for an Alabama team that won a national championship. Jeudy, even if he sits in the bowl game and leaves for the NFL, will have finished his career with 2,538 receiving yards and 25 receiving touchdowns (2nd among Alabama receivers). Beyond the numbers, he made some highlight-reel plays that you’ll be seeing for a long time.
This is absolutely DISGUSTING by Jerry Jeudy! pic.twitter.com/ufy99dBQrn
— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) August 31, 2019
WR: Amari Cooper, Alabama
There’s something about Cooper that I always remember that’s beyond the insane catches and the record-setting production. When Georgia and Alabama played in that 2012 SEC Championship, Cooper was the best player on the field … when he was 18. Seriously. Go back and watch that game and tell me I’m wrong.
The guy was un-guardable when healthy. It’s amazing to think about what he could have done with an Alabama team that threw the ball like it did with Tua Tagovailoa. That’s not a shot at AJ McCarron and Blake Sims, but Cooper was ahead of his time.
Any debate as to whether he belongs on this list stops with the mention of his junior season. The dude hauled in an SEC record 124 passes (!) for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns. It was one of the greatest single-season SEC performances we’ve ever seen. Alabama’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns is a no-brainer all-time great.
WR Honorable Mention
Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina), A.J. Brown (Ole Miss), Bryan Edwards (South Carolina), Calvin Ridley (Alabama), Julio Jones (Alabama), Josh Reynolds (Texas A&M), Mike Evans (Texas A&M), Ja’Marr Chase (LSU).
TE: Evan Engram, Ole Miss
It was between Engram or Hunter Henry for this spot. Engram got the nod for a couple reasons. For starters, he finished his career by delivering a senior season in which he caught 65 passes for 926 yards and 8 touchdowns, which was better than Henry’s top season at Arkansas. That’s impressive production for a receiver, much less a 240-pound tight end. The first-team All-American did that in just 11 games, too.
He became the first player in Ole Miss history to earn All-SEC honors 4 consecutive years. I’m not sure if people realize just how difficult that is to do in the SEC. Hugh Freeze’s offense helped Engram succeed, for sure, but his ability to make catches downfield made him a special player at the position.
TE Honorable Mention
Hunter Henry (Arkansas), Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M), Hayden Hurst (South Carolina), Albert Okwuegbunam (Mizzou), Jordan Reed (Florida), Orson Charles (Georgia), D.J. Williams (Arkansas).
OL: Ryan Kelly, Alabama
This might sound like a copout to have an Alabama center here, but consider how much Alabama ran between the tackles with Derrick Henry in 2015. There’s a reason Kelly won the Rimington Trophy.
It’s pretty simple. The guy was an absolute force in the middle of that rushing attack, which was relied on heavily down the stretch. Henry doesn’t hold up for 395 carries if not for Kelly paving the way. That’s in addition to Kelly not giving up a sack all year during Alabama’s 2015 national championship season.
Kelly didn’t necessarily have the 4-year run of dominance that others did on this list. But he somehow made sure that there wasn’t a drop-off after Barrett Jones left. Speaking of him …
OL: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Say what you want about Jones’ next-level shortcomings, but he had one of the best college careers ever for an offensive linemen. He won virtually every major offensive lineman award as a common denominator for 3 Alabama national championships (only 2 of those counted for the 2010s). Oh, and he starred at a different position each of Alabama’s 3 national championships that he was a part of.
Not many people could win the Outland Trophy and then turn around the next year and win the Rimington Trophy. He was indispensable for that team during one of the most impressive stretches we’ve seen in college football history. Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson don’t become Alabama greats without Jones dominating matchups on a weekly basis.
For some, though, he’ll always be remembered by this infamous viral play:
OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Joeckel only had 1 season in the SEC, but it was extremely memorable. He protected Johnny Manziel’s blind side during his Heisman Trophy season. Without Joeckel blocking long after plays broke down, Manziel wouldn’t have had the time to improvise and do what he did best. He was a unanimous All-American and the Outland Trophy winner in 2012 during A&M’s first season in the SEC.
It’s easy to forget that A&M team also averaged 242 rushing yards per game. No other SEC team besides A&M ranked in the top 15 nationally in both rushing and passing. Joeckel was obviously a major part of that. So was one of his fellow offensive line cohorts.
OL: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Matthews took over for Joeckel at left tackle after the latter left College Station early for the NFL. The former Aggie earned All-America honors playing both left and right tackle during the 2-year run of Manziel. Surely that wasn’t always an easy task with how much Manziel moved, but Matthews delivered consistently. A&M’s offense was still plenty good in 2013, too. It was still the No. 5 scoring unit in America despite the fact that there was obviously turmoil with Manziel.
But Matthews was a godsend in those early years of the Kevin Sumlin era. A guy who showed up and did whatever was needed made A&M much more competitive in its first couple SEC seasons than some might’ve expected.
OL: Jonah Williams, Alabama
A guy who starts 44 consecutive games at Alabama is probably pretty good. Just a thought. Williams was more than just a starter. He was a force at both tackle positions for an Alabama offensive line that was plenty dominant from 2016-18. He was a first-team All-SEC selection twice and a second-team honoree as a freshman. Why?
Check out some of these numbers from 2018:
- Missed just 3 assignments in 920 snaps at left tackle
- Didn’t allow a sack (Alabama allowed the fewest in the SEC)
- Allowed only 3 pressures
- Had 48 knockdown blocks
- Graded out 90% or higher in 14 of 15 games
Williams was a unanimous All-American as a junior for obvious reasons. He helped protect Tua Tagovailoa in the midst of his historic offensive season. Had he stayed for his senior year, Williams undoubtedly would’ve finished his career as one of the best offensive linemen in SEC history. Instead, he’ll have to settle for one of the 5 best offensive linemen of the decade.
OL Honorable Mention
Andrew Thomas (Georgia), Trey Smith (Tennessee), Braden Smith (Auburn), Cam Robinson (Alabama), Laremy Tunsil (Ole Miss), Frank Ragnow (Arkansas), Reese Dismukes (Auburn), La’el Collins (LSU), Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State), Travis Swanson (Arkansas), Chance Warmack (Alabama).
AP: Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
I know what you’re thinking. Beckham’s talents weren’t maximized until he got to the NFL. If you disagree with this slot, your argument is probably related to that or “way to just pick the household name.”
If we’re being honest, I had zero intention of putting Beckham on this list. That is, until I went back and looked at what he did in the return game, as well. Beckham had 3 return touchdowns in his career, 2 of which were via punt and 1 came via a 109-yard missed field goal kick return against UAB.
— History of Sports (@BeforeFamePics) June 17, 2016
The guy wasn’t quite the superstar he is today, but he was an easy choice for the 2013 Paul Hornung Award. Over 1,200 scrimmage yards AND over 1,000 total return yards in a season is pretty rare. It was pretty clear that as long as Beckham got the ball in his hands, he was devastating in space. Combined with that with all-world hands and some devastating route-running, and it’s fair to say Beckham was an electric, all-purpose star.
If only Beckham could have played with this 2019 LSU team.
Lynn Bowden (Kentucky), Christian Kirk (Texas A&M), Deebo Samuel (South Carolina), Cyrus Jones (Alabama), Joe Adams (Arkansas), Marcus Murphy (Mizzou), Evan Berry (Tennessee), Pharoh Cooper (South Carolina).