In honor of Fourth of July, here are the SEC's most explosive players of 2019
When you think of Fourth of July, you think of fireworks exploding in the summer sky.
When you think of the SEC, you think of players making explosive plays.
Well, at least I do.
Picking the most explosive players in the SEC is like trying to pick the best pizzas. There really aren’t any bad options, and many good options will get omitted simply because I don’t have time to list 185 guys.
But here are some guys who come to mind when I think of “explosive.”
Anthony Schwartz, Auburn WR
If you’re going to have a list of explosive players in college football that doesn’t include Schwartz, it’s not a real list.
The guy flashed some of his world-class speed last year for the Tigers (that catch and run against Tennessee was one of the better plays of 2019). And yes, “world-class speed” is a fair thing to say considering Schwartz set the under-18 world record with a 10.15-second 100-meter dash. The 2018 National Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year has some high expectations to explode in Gus Malzahn’s offense as a sophomore.
D’Andre Swift, Georgia RB
“Siri, show me a running back who looks like he’s shot out of a cannon.”
Swift is that guy. It’s not just that Swift has that unteachable first step. It’s the ability to hit a different gear once he reaches the second level. Swift can make one cut and run past an entire secondary like it’s nothing. Those type of backs are rare, which is why many believe Swift has preseason Heisman Trophy chances. The only question with Swift is whether Zamir White will challenge him for the title of “most explosive player out of the Georgia backfield.”
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
The most explosive back in the SEC is Vaughn. Need proof of that? Well, he led the SEC with 10 runs of 40-plus yards and nobody matched his absurd 6 runs of 60-plus yards. Vaughn hits home runs as well as any returning back in the SEC. The numbers back that up, too:
No SEC running back gained yardage on chunk plays (15+ yards) quite like Ke'Shawn Vaughn. pic.twitter.com/enWVtRCnio
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 2, 2019
Vaughn will have a bunch of highlight-reel plays this year that’ll make people wonder what he could do if he played for Alabama or Georgia. But even though he doesn’t play for a contender, don’t discount how explosive Red Mamba is.
I mean, did you really want me to go through and individually talk about how freakish Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are? I can, but it’s easier to group them because they’re all crazy explosive. They get off the line of scrimmage so well, and all of them have the ability to turn a routine 15-yard gain into a house call. It’s almost unfair that Tua Tagovailoa gets to play with a group so talented. That quartet combined for 201 catches, 3,597 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns last year. Any argument that they aren’t explosive would be silly.
Jabari Zuniga, Florida DL
That deadly first step is why Zuniga became one of the league’s top edge rushers a year ago. That made him a perfect fit in Todd Grantham’s system last year. Zuniga posted 11 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, but that doesn’t tell the full story of his impact of getting after the quarterback.
On top of that, he is just a specimen. He cracked Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List last year because of his 7.9% body fat at 259 pounds to go along with a 9-11 broad jump and a 33-inch vertical. Thankfully for the Gators, he’s back and ready to do even bigger things in his final season in Gainesville.
Dylan Moses, Alabama LB
The former 5-star recruit led Alabama in tackles as a sophomore last year. That doesn’t happen very often. It also doesn’t happen by mistake. Moses has instincts combined with physical ability that can’t be taught. His pursuit of ballcarriers makes him an indispensable piece of the Alabama defense. He figures to have a monster NFL Combine if and when that time comes (likely after the 2019 season). Moses ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash just 2 months after arriving on campus.
Nobody would be surprised to see Moses take another step and become the next Alabama All-American linebacker.
Grant Delpit, LSU S
SDS’ Adam Spencer has been doing an offseason series on creating the perfect SEC position players. When he got to safety, he joked that he wasn’t allowed to just say “Grant Delpit.” But if he could, nobody would think twice about that. The All-American explodes on film in everything he does. Whether that’s blowing up a play in the backfield, tracking down a deep ball or making the key open-field tackle, Delpit is the complete package.
For the love of the game and GLORY thru the madness… pic.twitter.com/s0SsA5SbEf
— GrantDelpit (@showtime9_) January 16, 2019
(By the way, Delpit’s secondary mate Derek Stingley will be added to this list as soon as he actually plays a college game.)
Lynn Bowden, Kentucky WR
Bowden can flat out jet. One of the top returning SEC receivers can do a little bit of everything. He can catch the deep ball, he can take a bubble screen for 6 and he can take a punt back if he actually gets a chance. Speaking of that, it’s probably a good sign that of the 5 punts Bowden returned last year, 2 went for touchdowns.
Bowden is a legit No. 1 receiver and he’s a major weapon who will be at the top of every scouting report in the post-Benny Snell era at Kentucky.
Javaris Davis, Auburn CB
When you reportedly run a 4.2-second 40-yard dash, that’s noteworthy. That’s what Davis was clocked at during Auburn’s 2017 spring testing, which is why there will be major pre-Combine hype for the senior cornerback in 2020. But it’s not just what Davis did at a test 2 years ago. It’s his explosive ability to make up ground that makes him such a key part of that defense. His instincts make him a pick-6 waiting to happen. Between Davis and Schwartz, Auburn might have the 2 fastest guys in college football this year.
And if we could get them to race on live TV, I’d be here for it.