- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Finally, it’s game week.
With the SEC’s first games rapidly approaching, our SEC writers are ready to make a series of predictions for the upcoming season. This morning we begin by discussing which player will be named the conference’s offensive player of the year.
Edward Aschoff: Nick Chubb, Georgia
Shocker, but I’m going with Nick Chubb. I don’t even know if I need to take the time to use 100 words to explain why that cyborg will take home POY honors. Outside of the simple fact that he’s a physical/genetic freak that scientists are giddy to study, he rushed for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns last year while averaging 7.1 yards per carry. He only started eight games last year, but will start many more this year. He’s stronger and faster right now, and is the beginning, middle and end of Georgia’s offense. Pressure fears him.
David Ching: Leonard Fournette, LSU
Yeah, Chubb is probably the obvious pick, Ed. Just to switch things up, I’ll choose another of the conference’s super sophomores: LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Word around Baton Rouge is that he looks ready to build upon a strong freshman season in a huge way. He already set LSU’s freshman rushing record (1,034 yards) and capped the season with a monster game against Notre Dame. Look forward to his 264 yards of total offense against the Irish becoming more like the norm for Fournette as he tries to lead the Tigers back to SEC West contention.
Sam Khan: Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
Auburn's high-powered offense is conducive to allowing the quarterback to produce big numbers and Johnson seems groomed for a huge season. He's Gus Malzahn's hand-picked guy, spent two years developing and waiting for his turn and has all the tools: arm strength, size (6-5, 240), athletic ability (4.6-second 40). You see what Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee did with Nick Marshall, who isn't quite the passer Johnson is, and the offense was productive. Johnson's skills allow the Tigers to expand the offense and make it that much more dangerous.
Greg Ostendorf: Nick Chubb, Georgia
On every odd year since 2007, a running back has won SEC offensive player of the year. I see that trend continuing this year. How can it not with the likes of Chubb and Fournette in the league? I gave the edge to Chubb because six of the last eight winners have played in the SEC title game, and I think Georgia has a better shot at making it to Atlanta than LSU. But both players are exceptional talents, and it’s only a matter of time before both are playing on Sundays.
Alex Scarborough: Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
It would be easy to go with a running back here, and not just Fournette or Chubb. With Alabama's uncertainty at QB, it wouldn't surprise me if Derrick Henry posts big numbers. But because there will be so many quality backs (also Alex Collins, Jalen Hurd, et al.) and because I think they'll steal votes from one another, I'm going QB, specifically Auburn's Johnson. I'm taking a leap of faith with the first-time starter, but he's got enough experience to make me feel comfortable. And in Malzahn's offense, he could wind up with eye-popping stats.