Stock Watch: SEC East, Bowl Season
The SEC is a wild place, with teams’ chances at a division crown or playoff berth, or a coach’s job security, can vary widely week to week. Whose stock is rising and whose is dropping as we head into bowl season in the SEC East? SDS takes a look.
- Florida’s recruiting. Jim McElwain has criss-crossed the state over the last week, giving his pitch to current Gators commitments as well as recruiting targets. From the looks of it, he’s impressing recruits and their families. After losing a couple of commitments in the first few days after hiring McElwain, Florida seems to be in good position to secure some big-name uncommitted players to bolster its class.
- Pharoh Cooper: South Carolina’s top offensive option was one of just two players to make it on the all-SEC team twice, as he was voted in as a first-team wide receiver and a second-team all-purpose player. Cooper burst onto the scene this year after coming into the season as a relative unknown, and he could realistically take on an even bigger role in the bowl game and next season.
- Jimmie Hunt: Missouri’s senior receiver broke out as a deep threat in the SEC title game. With Maty Mauk scrambling for his life all game, Hunt found ways to get open deep. Hunt has had trouble with drops over the course of the season, but made some impressive hands catches against Alabama in the championship game. Even though Mizzou took a beat down from Alabama, Hunt ended his SEC career on a high note.
- Georgia: The Bulldogs ended up in the Belk Bowl after looking destined for a higher-tier SEC bowl, adding disappointment for Georgia after falling short in the East. Just last week, SDS projected Georgia would play in the Outback Bowl, a New Year’s Day bowl that carries a minimum payout of $3.3 million per team. The Belk Bowl only offers about $1.7 million per team. On the bright side, Georgia does get one of the better bowl opponents, Louisville.
- Derek Mason: At this point, it feels like the only coach that Vanderbilt hasn’t fired is Mason. The Commodores have let go of their offensive and defensive coordinators go, as well as the receivers and strength coaches. As it stands, Vanderbilt will only be returning about 60 percent of its staff. With Mason pointing the fingers at his coaches, he’ll have to put up or shut up quickly.
- Shane Ray: Not to pile on the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, but Ray made quite the judgement error in the title game. Who knows if it ended up costing Missouri all that much — the Tigers were overmatched coming in — but the Tigers sure could have used something from him. Luckily, because the hit came in the first half, Ray won’t miss any of the bowl game, and the Tigers ended up being invited to the Citrus Bowl.