Picking an Offensive MVP for every SEC team
It has been a great season of SEC football, and the bowl season promises to add to it. With 13 of the 14 SEC squads going bowling, the season contains more than its fair share of highs — particularly on offense. Sure, once upon a time, the SEC was a league of defensive titans. With apologies to UGA’s excellent defense, that’s by and large a product of bygone days. Offenses lighted up scoreboards around the league. Here are our picks for each SEC squad’s offensive Most Valuable Player.
Alabama: Bryce Young, QB
John Metchie and Jameson Williams both had MVP-type seasons, to say nothing of standout tackle Evan Neal. And Brian Robinson Jr. could get the nod for many teams. But let’s be honest — Young is the engine that drives the Tide’s national title hopes. Is it possible to quietly throw for 4,322 yards, 43 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions? Because that’s how Young’s season seemed to go. Admittedly, pulling the Iron Bowl out of the fire and dominating Georgia was pretty showy. But Young has just been quietly superb all season, and he’s the pick.
Arkansas: Treylon Burks, WR
This was a tough call. KJ Jefferson was rock-solid for the Hogs, and he could have drawn the nod. But Burks wasn’t just the vital cog in the Arkansas offense — he WAS the offense: 66 catches, 1,104 yards and 11 TDs for a team that had nobody else who eclipsed 21 catches, 305 yards or 2 TDs. Burks had 100 receiving yards 6 times in 2021. He’s the guy.
Auburn: Tank Bigsby, RB
Bo Nix was tempting, but between the ho-hum stats and the 4th-quarter struggles of the Tigers, we went in a different direction. Bigsby had to split carries with Jarquez Hunter, but he still scrapped out a 1,000-yard season on the ground and racked up 10 TDs. Bigsby was sometimes overlooked, sometimes underutilized, but he was the most consistent threat on the Tigers’ offense, and he’s the MVP.
LSU: Max Johnson, QB
Johnson, who has already entered the transfer portal, was originally intended to back up Myles Brennan, but a season-ending injury to Brennan made Johnson QB1 for the Tigers. His stats: 2,814 yards, 27 TDs, 6 interceptions. Johnson was perhaps the only consistent feature for a fairly rudderless Tigers squad. Tyrion Davis-Price gets the runner-up nod.
MSU: Will Rogers, QB
The guy who was most valuable to the Air Raid was the trigger man. Receiver Makai Polk was superb, and lineman Charles Cross could have earned the nod. Rogers did not complete less than 63 percent of his passes all year, and he never threw for fewer than 294 yards. His season totals: 4,451 yards, 35 TDs, 8 interceptions — and a bowl berth for the Bulldogs, largely off Rogers’ steady play.
Ole Miss: Matt Corral, QB
Not just the most entertaining QB in college football, Corral lived up to his extraordinary talent in a 2021 season to remember. His 3,339 yards, 20 TDs and 4 interceptions went well with another 597 yards and 11 TDs on the ground. Corral made the Rebels must-see TV, and he is a clear pick for offensive MVP.
Texas A&M: Isaiah Spiller, RB
Surprise QB Zach Calzada was gutty, and RB Devon Achane was almost as valuable as Spiller. But the veteran back was the bedrock for the Aggies’ offense. His 1,011 rushing yards and 6 TDs are astonishing in light of Achane topping 900 yards as well. The Aggies went 5-1 when Spiller got more than 15 carries, and 3-3 when he didn’t. It wasn’t a coincidence.
Florida: Dameon Pierce, RB
This one took some work. Emory Jones had too many turnovers, Anthony Richardson didn’t see enough time and the receiving corps lacked a standout. Pierce had one of the weirdest seasons ever. He rushed for 517 yards and 12 touchdowns, but he did it without ever having double-digit carries. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry and had a touchdown every 7 carries. For a weird Florida offense, Pierce was the best thing going, even if Dan Mullen never figured that out.
Georgia: Brock Bowers, TE
Stetson Bennett was fine, but he has just 2,325 passing yards on the season. If Zamir White and James Cook were 1 player, that player would be an easy All-American. But the top UGA offensive threat is superb tight end Bowers. With 47 grabs for 791 yards and 11 TDs, he comfortably led Georgia in each category while creating a mismatch in every game. Bowers was UGA’s top dog on offense.
Kentucky: Wan’Dale Robinson, WR
Tackle Darian Kinnard has a claim on the title, and running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. was outstanding. But the difference in this UK team and the 2019 and 2020 Wildcats was the presence of Robinson as a constant threat in the passing game. His 94 catches for 1,178 yards and 7 TDs were even more impressive in an offense that was based on throwing to him constantly and occasionally to senior Josh Ali … and then back to those 2 again and again. Robinson had 94 catches, Ali had 41 and the entire rest of UK’s roster totaled 90 more. But Wan’Dale made it work.
Missouri: Tyler Badie, RB
Badie was the best back in the league, and had Missouri managed a decent season, he’d be an All-America candidate. With 1,604 rushing yards and 14 TDs, Badie was far and away the best player in the Tigers’ offense. This might have been the easiest choice of the group.
South Carolina: Josh Vann, WR
Had Carolina used him more, running back ZaQuandre White might have gotten the nod. But in Carolina’s constantly changing offense, the one consistent note was Vann, whose 43 catches for 679 yards and 5 scores easily topped the Gamecocks in all 3 categories. Good enough for us.
Tennessee: Hendon Hooker, QB
Since taking over for Joe Milton, Hooker has revitalized the UT offense and perhaps the entire program. Hooker was the centerpiece of UT’s new identity as one of the most potent offenses in the SEC and a team with a future. Hooker’s numbers are good — 2,567 yards, 25 TDs, 3 interceptions. His leadership might have been even better.
Vanderbilt: Chris Pierce Jr., WR
Finding somebody worth noting in Vandy’s offense takes some searching. The best candidate is Pierce, who managed 57 catches for 654 yards and a pair of touchdowns despite constant QB shuffling and an incredibly inefficient offense. Somebody had to win for the Commodores, and Pierce was the best player on an outmatched offense.